Thursday, March 3, 2011

To Melissa ~ a repost on her thirty-sixth birthday


 This was written a year ago but it still stands:

You were my first big hope, a miracle I couldn't engineer all by myself. After months of trying and failing, the planets aligned, the perfect swimmer met the ready egg, and you were conceived. I still have the little piece of paper that says "gravindex positive, " a folded memento your grandfather's nurse handed me the day I knew it was true. Back then, there were no magic sticks to wet on in the privacy of your own bathroom; people had to make an appointment to find out. Daddy and I were lucky your grandfather was a doctor and we could get in quickly for a test. We were living in Greenville at the time so we must have traveled back to Warner Robins, with you as our secret, to keep the process all in the family.

I still remember the peppermint flavor of that summer as peppermints were what I used to stave off the nausea. I also recall looking at myself in the full-length mirror you took to Oregon years later. I stood sideways and sucked in my stomach and saw and felt the hard knot that was you. I wonder now at not being able to foresee that the mirror which afforded me my first look at you would one day accompany you to the place that would steal you away from me.

We called you Boogie as we watched you, already a member of the Allman Brothers Fan Club, grow in my belly. We named you after the song that was a reminder of the music your daddy loved so much, and something I, in turn, loved about him .

From the very beginning, you were your own little person, often inwardly focused, occasionally cranky (if you can imagine that). Your need to create happened early on as we all recall your waking us up in the middle of the night asking where the scissors were. You accepted your siblings with resolve and some affection, taking on the mantle of oldest while still maintaining an air of being above it all, as if the promise had been that you would be the only one.

As a child, I remember your best friends as being boys, but what I'm recalling is most likely just that one summer, the summer of Greg and Sonny. You three were like a cyclone pulsating through the neighborhood, all grime and no homework. Some days, I couldn't tell you apart. You looked and smelled exactly the same.
When you became a teenager, with the height of your cock-a-doodle bangs signifying your mood, social endeavors dictated your days and nights but you still managed to do well in school and stay out of trouble (mostly). We had some issues with the car, the curfew, and that big party, but I could still count on you to snuggle up and ask me to scratch your back, and to put your big old feet in my lap when we watched television. Because you were my first teenager, I had to try to figure out how to continue to mother you after you thought it was no longer necessary. I still remember the times you were late enough for me to be scanning the driveway, mentally writing your very sad obituary, and I certainly haven't forgotten the rope and rubber gloves you used for climbing in and out of your second-story bedroom window.

It was while you were in college I began to realize how like my mother you are: intelligent, intense, and ready to travel to places I'd be afraid to go. The summer you and Molly Mitchell spent working in Yellowstone must have been a mighty one as it ended up changing your life. When you later told me you wanted to move to Oregon, I thought of it as a great adventure, never dreaming it would become your future (and to a great extent, mine).

Now you are a wife, a mother, a worker, a driver, a sewer, a maker, a coaxer, a car-seat buckler, and a cinematographer, but, thanks to Trevor, not a cook. You are also still a daughter to your daddy and me, and a sister to Billy and Molly, and a friend to those who are worthy of the relationship. I realized a couple of Christmases ago that you'd already bypassed me to become the family matriarch, making sure events happen with all the necessary ingredients, while the rest of us stumble around mouthing exhortations about what we would have done if we'd just had the time, the money, or if you had simply reminded us.

Being a mother yourself, I know you now understand what you mean to me. I can't imagine my life without you, and Miles and Georgia would tell you the same if they just had the words. We are talking one big deal, reciprocal, co-dependent relationship here.

And so, one heart supports new hearts, life goes on, and the family endures in spite of itself.

15 comments:

Friko said...

If that girl reads this and remains aloof and unmoved, she doesn't deserve this tribute. I would have killed for this much love and understanding and acceptance.

For you to be able to write this, as simply and honestly and straightforward as you have here, tells me a lot about you too. All of it good. I'd like to say 'you lucky woman' although I suspect that hard work and compromise as well as constant awareness of possible pitfalls had more to do with this wonderful outcome than luck.

You have allowed me an insight into a very rare relationship.

Jean said...

What a beautifully-written tribute to your first-born, Marcia. Friko has said it all so well that if I continue here, it'll be nothing more than babbling.

marciamayo said...

Friko, I am lucky with all three of my kids. They didn't exactly have the perfect upbringing with parents divorcing and mom climbing that ladder. They all turned out to be good, caring human beings. Lest they get the big head however, I should say they are still giant pains in the ass.

Arkansas Patti said...

My God that was a beautiful account of birth through adult but mostly the love and joy a child brings her mother. I was never lucky enough to be a mother, but now perhaps I can understand my own mother a bit better.
Happy Birthday Melissa. I loved reading about your journey through your Mother's eyes and hope your eyes are as damp as mine right now.

Olga said...

That was beautifully done. I hope your daughter has it framed and hanging on a wall.

Melissa said...

Nothing like starting off your birthday with tears! Except at my old age, it's harder to de-puff my eyes after it happens. Gonna need a lot of make-up today.
Thank you Mama. You're the greatest mama ever.

Kate said...

Wonderful post, Marcia. I agree with Friko on this one.

MaryB said...

Beautiful loving tribute to Melissa and so revealing about the wonderful mother she has. I especially noticed the sensitivity to first born - since I am also. All I can say is Wow!!

Anonymous said...

What a special family. I love you Talberts and Stelsons! Happy Birthday Melissa. I definitely remember 'that big party' like it was yesterday. xoxo
-Sarah

oklhdan said...

Beautiful....and you look alike. What a wonderful way to pay tribute to a beautiful relationship.

Wisewebwoman said...

Oh you fair about done me in with this post Marcia.
So beautifully said, so heartfelt.
I come from a straight down 5 generations of eldest daughters and it so totally resonated!
Thank you, dear friend.
And happy Birthday to Melissa.
XO
WWW

joared said...

Lovely birthday tribute to your daughter. I so value the words my daughter and I have exchanged, especially after she became a mother, too.

paula devi said...

Oh Marcia, women's paths. tears and my heart suddenly getting softer and softer as I read and re-read your story. My mind wants to write a million words here but my heart knows there are no words available to the human tongue for some things. I can't believe Melissa had rope and gloves to climb out of her bedroom window. That's hysterical - but only in retrospect. I thought that only happened in the movies. She looks enough like you to be your double. I am so sure that like myself, you remember every moment of her birth and the smell of that little indentation on the back of her neck.
and time marches on.

schmidleysscribblins.wordpress.com said...

Catching up on my reading so I ejoyed your birthday message to your little girl and the story of your New Zealand friend. Good reading. Thanks Marcia. Gosh, second grade to college in three easy blogs. What will you do when you get old?? Dianne

Ajoy said...

Came across this late and if made me tear up as well. Amazing tribute to a fantastic daughter from her equally incredible mother!