She ignored the house when it could have used a good vacuuming, choosing to play Scrabble with me instead. She grasped, full-on, life's priorities.
She conspired with me to adopt the clumsy, brindle-furred puppy. She knew my dad's soft spot would eventually surface, just as she seemed to know what was within everyone's heart.
She grounded me when I was suspended from high school for smoking. She knew when wrong was wrong.
She understood the importance of a well-rounded dinner of meat, potatoes and a beverage. So she found a way to justify our mother-daughter Friday Night Dinner Parties of Slim Jims, Potato Chips and Pepsi.
She knew my dad meant well when we were young, but couldn't always be counted on. Amidst the fun times she preferred, she realized the discipline, too, was left to her hands.
She saw her husband, her parents, and several close friends through terminal illnesses. She was the caregiver and the support system. Time after time, she was the strong one, even when she was weak with grief herself.
She spent time with her grandchildren because she wanted to, not because she was obligated. And they knew it.
She was soft with me when I needed her to be, and tough with me when I needed that.
The theory is that one can't be a good parent and also be a friend. Yet somehow, she's managed both with love and skill and finesse.
Happy Birthday, Mom.