Before I’m 64

Ask anyone the date upon which Abraham Lincoln died and those who paid close enough attention in junior history class might get the month (April), the year (1865), and perhaps the holiday (Good Friday), or some combination thereof. Most will know John Wilkes Booth did the deed.

It is better known November 22nd to be the day Lee Harvey Oswald pulled his trigger.

Today I celebrate my mother’s 60th birthday. My father only made it to 55, and my mother, in recent weeks, has had heart trouble significant enough I worried whether either of my folks would get to 60. Today’s the day, she made it, and once she’s turned into the Bionic Woman with pacemaker and defibrillator we should be able to see her through to 70. Hope.

Today I also mark the death of my maternal grandmother. A tall, strict, German woman, my grandmather had the ability to show a soft side if it was searched for, but it required the search as she would not willingly show it to everyone. 50 years after she gave birth to my mom, almost to the minute, her body gave out, and she was gone.

In Northeast Illinois on November 22nd, 2004, the weather was pleasant. There had been need for a jacket, there had been no clouds, there had been just a peach of a fall day. When I received word of the death I was hunkered down at my desk working on some long-forgotten piece of nothing in a career even less important than the work being done. I cried, quietly, then went looking for my supervisor to get permission to leave work and prepare for the week back home, which would include the first Thanksgiving with my family in more than half a decade. Never mind I had just done the 1,000-mile roundtrip two days earlier to celebrate my mother’s 50th. It would need to be driven again.

A silver lining happened later the same day when a Level 2 Ultrasound told the tale of a child to be born, a girl, someone who we would always look to and say, “Little Margaret Ann will somehow call to mind Big Margaret Ann beyond name as the one given would surely have something of the one taken.” The child was to be named for her deceased great grandmother.

For five months coping with the death was made somehow easier waiting for Little Margaret Ann to appear and take my grandma’s place. She would be loved, protected, and raised knowing she was of the utmost importance to all those around her. At bare minimum she would have the name.

Little Margaret Ann. Meg. Grandma would be gone for only five months before she was somehow, someway returned to us.

It is safe to say a hefty curveball came our way after the five months passed, Meg gave way to Henry and, for the second time in less than half a year, a Margaret Ann was taken. A story for another time.

For today: my mom is 60. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, glamper. In my subsequent ten years another child was born, a marriage ended, a nervous breakdown or two or three were suffered, jobs were changed, I grieved the death of a grandfather, and watched my father’s fight fight against the unbeatable cancer . It is absolutely insane to think of how much life has changed in just ten short years.

Today Sandra Kay, Sam, Namma Sandy, Mom, enters her seventh decade.

A very happy birthday to her with only quiet moments left to remember the Margaret Anns of the world. Why? Because they were both, in their way and in reality or otherwise, important.

And, for the record, there was no second shooter. Just a crackpot sitting in a warehouse with rifle in hand. Bank on it.