Friday, December 26, 2014

Today My Mother Is 90 Years Old

Mom December 1927, 3 years old
"My doctor tells me that when you turn ninety, you might say or do anything, so watch out!"

That's what my mom says. She's kidding, of course. And maybe a little serious and a little nervous. Our family's experience with Dad's dementia/Alzheimer's was enough to have us tossing salt over our shoulder.

What I admire most about my mom is her quiet courage. Born in an era when it wasn't unusual for a woman to just follow her husband's orders, Mom quietly lived her independent life of traditional boundaries. She never drove a car because her eyesight was too poor. She didn't work once she started having babies. She was a stay-at-home mom, but that form only contained her independence. It did not quell it.

Today Mom is heading for a new year--as she put it, a "not so happy year." Dad is gone, but Mom still has her two boys. I'll be out to see her in a month. My brother is her live-in caregiver.

My new year's resolution is a paraphrase of a favorite expression of Mom's, to just keep moving, that when you sit down, that's when you get into trouble. I don't think of that as wearing yourself out with activity; rather, I think it means to remain vital and in accord with nature.

Sometimes when we follow our path, we have to shout the warning, "Clear the path! I'm coming through!" A variant is "Follow me or get out of the way!" My dad phrased this more bluntly: "Help or get the hell out of the way!"

When I hear my mother--five feet tall and ninety years old, blind and deaf--say such things, I hear the implacable power of nature grinding down mountains, that power that pounds seashores to sand and lifts into the air ten billion birds. I am lifted myself to keep moving, to keep to my path, to enjoy my life.

God bless you, Mom, and happy birthday.

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


  1. Happy birthday, Mrs. Kepler. My mom lived to be 93. Not a day goes by without being reminded of something she said or did to help me or show her love. Tom, I'm glad you will have that.

    1. Writing really sharpens my appreciation. Thanks!

  2. My mother dies of Alzheimers, as did her mother and brother. Scary, but I like what you say - keep moving, foward, and hopefully I'll miss that bullet. Your mom sounds like an inspiration.

    1. Mom does inspire me--to keep moving and to appreciate the journey.

  3. Replies
    1. She is a sweet lady. The photo on the cover of the book she couldn't see because she's blind. I told her she had a sweet smile (and didn't tell her about the curlers).