I try not to use my self-appointed position at the Just Blowing Smoke blog for personal reasons any more than current crop of Congressional Democrats use theirs to abuse the American people with onerous and odorous legislation (you can see how wide open that this leaves the field however). The birthday of one's mother however, should be able to be seen by almost anyone as an exception worthy of note.
And exception is exactly the word that should be used where this woman is concerned, for the exceptional indeed is the Matriarch of our family. I don't recall that my siblings and I were not a terribly unruly bunch growing up, but I am sure that we presented our fair share of parental challenges; even to a stay-at-home mom. These were probably made a bit made more interesting for her however by the fact that our father worked nights for the lion's share of our upbringing and traveled extensively afterward, leaving her the keeper of both love and discipline, a position to which she was eminently suited.
This situation also left the lioness protecting the cubs (pun intended) from threats both foreign and domestic, and protect them she did. While some days found her breaking up the natural squabbling (fairly frequent as I remember it) that occur when there are four siblings under the same roof, others saw her wading into a crowd of teenagers far beyond her weight class to restore order to an unruly mob. Some found her acting as referee during the the occasional youthful shouting matches at home, while others saw here performing the same function at her sons' hockey games (though not officially, of course). In the end she gained the respect of those around her in all of these situations, and her advice was always listened to (if they knew what was good for them), and was often heeded (even the refs finally broke down and gave her a striped shirt).
An avid sports fan during her years in Chicago, she expanded her fanatical devotion to the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks to include the Chief and the Royals after moving to Kansas City, and later still to the KU Jayhawks. With all of these teams, somehow she is able to keep player rosters, performance levels, personal quirks, and character flaws on each player of every one of those teams straight in her head; with a perfect recollection of detail at the ready. She does this as well with a family of truly Catholic proportions spread throughout the country.
Confronted with a name or a face, she is immediately able to place them by parents, siblings, children of their own, city of residence, and time since last seen. (A trait which she unfortunately somehow failed to pass on, at least to this offspring.) I am always astounded to see relations approach to say hi to "Aunt Sis" (a nickname picked up long ago), never expecting to be recognized or remembered; only to have her reveal minute detail of life to each person, while asking the most exacting questions about their current lives.
So on this day of days, I choose to remember and thank someone who keeps so many of us constantly in her memory. For today Ruth Higgins reaches the all too young age of 80, a number notable for her fulfillment of a promise made long ago to seal her undying loyalty to the Chicago Cubs with a tattoo on her right shoulder (Winnie is smiling mom). The undying loyalty, love, and respect of this son however (and I am sure far more of the clan) are today reserved instead for this woman, who deserves oh so much more than any of us can show her.
Happy Birthday Mom!