HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM (& FITTINGFORTY.COM)
...because I wouldn't be 'fitting forty' without her.
I've tried a few activities in the last couple of years, including surfing, Krav Maga, Piloxing, and almost eating fermented shark in Iceland (almost...couldn't). I will most certainly write about those experiences in detail later, but there was one seemingly simple thing (it's not) that I've always wanted to learn - pot a plant or flower and help it grow.
I'm not going to be introducing myself as Dr. Green Thumb anytime soon, a la Cypress Hill, but my Mom probably could. I can barely remember to drink water sometimes, much less have the wherewithal to make sure all flora around me are well hydrated. So off to Mom's house I went for Gardening 101. Needless to say, I didn't realize there are always other lessons to be learned even when you and your Mom are just talking about flowers.
The first thing I noticed when we started our session was how much confidence my Mom had in my ability to tend to a living thing. She immediately offered to give me one of her beautiful orchids to take, as if she was certain her flower-whisperer genes were in me. I declined politely and told her I'd like to start slow. I spotted a small portion of succulents that I was certain I could take care of and asked to take that home instead. She agreed but not before she was able to coax me into taking an orchid sooner than later. Mom Lesson 1: She always had more confidence in my ability than I sometimes had for myself. I will be picking up that orchid next week.
Another thing that I noticed when she was showing me her beautiful garden was that she always pointed out the flowers and plants that some people had either given up on, so they gave it to her to see if she can revive them (she did), and ones that would be challenging to grow in a specific environment, but thrived anyway in her care. This sort of attitude sums up my mother in so many ways. Mom Lesson 2: Just like her flowers, my Mom never gives up on people, broken or otherwise, and her loyalty is infinite. There are many people who can attest to this, including me.
I can write a post a day on this blog about how truly remarkable my mother is, but I'll save that for a book. I'll end this for now with one of my most favorite Mom moments. It was 1997 and my family and I just landed in LAX after a 14+ hour flight from the motherland. My Dad, two sisters and I were ready to head home after surviving long lines through US Customs. Any thoughts of home, however, were squelched, as my mother somehow zeroed in on an older Filipino woman traveling alone who looked lost and couldn't find the relatives who were supposed to pick her up. This was before everyone had cell phones, mind you, so she spent quite some time on the payphone trying to find this woman's family. I watched, partly weary and annoyed, but also partly amazed, at how my Mom summoned up extra energy to make sure this woman, someone's own mother, sister or Lola, found her family and got to where she needed to be.
It takes great patience and care to tend to flowers and plants, and one really does need to have a magic touch to know when they need extra nurturing, or when to let them go so they can bloom. My Mom has that magic touch - with flowers, plants and most of all, with people.
Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you and thank you. I wouldn't be fitting forty and thriving without you.