01 February, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom

Dear Mama,

…to say what you want to say, you must create another language and nourish it for years and years with what you have loved, with what you have lost, with what you will never find again.
–George Seferis

I’ve been sitting staring at this blank page for about ten minutes now, attempting to grab, to clutch at the appropriate words to commemorate this day, this point in your life. I think what I am realizing is that “summing up” my feelings is going to be a futile gesture.

I think of our relationship now, and it makes me bubble with a warmth and security. We are more than simply Mother and Daughter (which, admittedly, is no simple thing), but friends, kindred spirits.
I enjoy your company.
I love to talk with you.
You are my best friend in the purest sense.
We 'get' each other.
The way we love and respect one another is without question, and almost without notice, so calm and real are the waters between us. I can come to you for a few moments of sanity, to talk (forever), to listen, to have my life held in your sane and discerning mind; to hold yours, to provide some kind of helpful commentary and to bask in contented love (this, incidentally, was perfectly displayed in our magnificent day at the V&A in 2008-- perfect 'day with Mom.')

I have learned so much from you, from the mundane to the extraordinary. From hair de-frizzing to bargain shopping, from table manners to how to deal with jealousy, from tampons to roasting vegetables, from driving to makeup, from dealing with success to dealing with grief.

I remember when you came in to my room when I was 18 months old, and picked me up out of my crib and took me over to the piñata shaped like a star, and slowly said “Star… it’s a star…”

I remember when I stole your diary from your summer in Mexico and thought, “My God, my Mom is cool.” I remember walking up and down Fairway every day.

 I remember cocoa-coffee in the mornings.

 I remember hijacking your love of Judy Collins.

I remember our trips home from school every day.

I remember your face after The Miracle Worker.
And She Loves Me.

I remember calling you when I first tasted crunchy peanut butter and your response was “I told you!”

I remember the look on your face after I delivered the Eulogy.

I remember our perfect, perfect day in London at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

I remember your face being very patient with me, and trying not to laugh while I was hysterically crying about not understanding 'the MORTGAGE.'

I remember spreading Dad’s ashes around the baseball diamond.

I remember you patiently reading the label of the bath salts to me in the tub while I recovered from a migraine ("And Al? Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to call this number in Nanhasset, Connecticut...")

I remember Cassie Victoria.

I remember Christmas tree pageants.

I remember.
I remember.
I remember everything.
It is the stuff of which our colorful and textured life has been woven.

But most importantly, through your actions you have taught me that life is an unending opportunity to see things differently, to keep re-framing disaster and discouragement into hope. There is pain and there is joy. There are hills and valleys. We are not always comfortable, but we can ride it out. You have never let a hardship stop your love of life. Every time we as human beings go through the process of hardship, we feel vulnerable, hopeful, unsure, and what we assume to be our weaknesses turn out to be our strengths.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

My birthday wish for you is, that, from within the pages of this book that is your life, you have learned that though at times you may feel it, that you are not alone. That you have never been alone. That, your influence in this wide and glorious world has been widespread; and bears complex, deep, and fathom-less roots. That the seemingly insignificant or minute expenditures of your energy have had profound effects on those you have come in to contact with. Twenty five years of marriage. Twenty Five years of parenting. An hour with Lauren Schefman. A series of Sundays with Fran Steinman. A phone call to Bergan Cooper. Belief in Jeremey Catterton.

You are a wonder, Catherine Silber. And I love you.

…and so now they begin Chapter One of The great Story. Which goes on forever. In which every chapter is greater than the one before…
–C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Happy 60th Birthday Mama. Here’s to the next chapter.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
-- T.S Eliot, Four Quartets

Today and always. with all my heart (and toes).
Your Very own,
Al x


  1. absolutely. beautiful.

  2. Happy birthday, Catherine! You are an amazing woman, and you have raised an incredible daughter! Here's to many, many more.

  3. My Dearest AL,
    You are a wonder...one moment your 'genius' has me folded over with laughter, the next I am brought to tears my your your eloquence...what a gift you are.
    Thank my girl... You are my greatest inspiration.
    YVO Mama

  4. That is a very lovely note! Happy birthday Al's Mum! You look lke Angelina Jolie - beautiful! x

  5. Beautiful writing! You look just like your Mom, by the way :)

  6. Aw, what a great blog! Hope your mother has a wonderful day, and that you share an even MORE perfect day in the future with her.



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