Yesterday was my mother’s 84th birthday celebration. It was held in a restaurant and most of her seven children and thirteen grandchildren were in attendance. Because of the mere amount of people in our family, commitments do not always allow us to all get together. Even yesterday, there were people missing because of being away at college, moving into their first house and even minor surgeries. But for the ones that did show, it was a wonderful celebration and I knew my mom enjoy it. I saw it in her eyes as they burned bright looking down the table at all she created. I heard it in her laughter that was filled with the humor handed down to all of us. Appropriately, she sat at the head of the table and even joined us in our singing of “Happy Birthday”. Heck, at 84, she could do a solo if she chose.
I was on the opposite end of the table from my mother, near my four nephews, my husband and my son. I gave up on eavesdropping on the conversations held at my mother’s end and concentrated on the ones near me. Our conversations were filled with discussions on literature and music, two important component of my upbringing, and it would seem that importance…that love…has reached the next generation. Involved in the conversation was a nephew who builds his own base guitars as a hobby, a nephew who plays and sings for self-enjoyment, a nephew who reads at insatiable pace, a nephew who plays the base and draws well enough…great enough…to have a successful business, and a son knows so much about so much. For almost three hours names like Roy Clark, Jimi Hendrix, Les Paul, Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King and Scott Fitzgerald were batted around as casually as names of athletes – – which were touched on as well. These discussions connected a 15-year-old teenager to a 32-year-old man and connected a tattoo artist to an engineer. It was my proof that the arts are a connecting language…at least in my family.
Towards the end of the afternoon, after we sang happy birthday, my mother hesitated to blow out her candles. She concentrated long and hard on her wish before she blew. I don’t know exactly what she wished for or why she spent the time to think about it. Perhaps she wanted to choose between World Peace or that the day would never end. Or perhaps she wished for more celebrations that could bring her prodigies together again. I know that is what I would wish for … and then we can speak our family’s universal language once again.