This is not a political post. Today’s the day that I stop thinking politically for just a little while and think historically and sentimentally instead. Because today, November 13, 2013, is my mother’s 100th birthday.
She doesn’t want a party. She doesn’t want a lot of visitors or bouquets of flowers. In fact, the fact that she has told us that she doesn’t want these things is, in itself, testimony to the fact that my mother is still, in fact, running her own show. Her memory is amazing. She can still play a mean game of Mah Jongg. She can write her own limericks, design and sew her own signature berets, write in the clear, consistent, Palmer-Method script handwriting that she learned in grade school, tell the Aesop’s fable story of “The Thirsty Crow,” replete with props she made herself, and create photo albums for her great grandchildren. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, shown this post, she edits it for grammatical correctness.
For her birthday, my sisters and I have created a collection of limericks and anecdotes submitted by friends and family. The response to our call for submissions was a tsunami—resulting in an 82-page book. Undoubtedly, it too will bring out Mom’s inner editor, and she’ll spend as much time correcting historical inaccuracies as she will simply “kvelling” over the words themselves.
Here’s a limerick I included in the book:
Mildred Shur: Who could be more create-y?
Or surpass her in thoughts that are weight-y?
For Mildred, whose mind
Is quite nicely aligned,
100 is just the new 80.
Worth mentioning, I think, on this day, is this tidbit: Born during a monster snowstorm in Cleveland, Ohio—so huge that my grandfather had to carry my grandmother to the hospital when she went into labor, Mom has outlived many notables who share her birth year—and outlived them with a quality of life we can all envy: Loretta Young, Rosa Parks, Mary Martin, Albert Camus [I should make some kind of existential joke here, but you already get that], Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Danny Kaye and Burt Lancaster.
It’s a Jewish tradition, on someone’s birthday, to wish them “Ad me’ah v’esrim”–“May you live to 120.” In Mom’s case, we may need a bigger number.
Just for fun, here’s a gallery of images from the year my Mom was born.