Mothers can relate to the joy we feel on our children’s birthdays. Every memory comes flooding back. We retell the events yearly. Our daughter Marie turns sixteen today. I won’t write about the day of her birth. She knows I’ll tell her about it sometime today. Marie is a strong person physically, mentally and spiritually. From her infancy through early childhood, I would jog the back roads of rural Maryland with her in the baby jogger. She’d comment on road kill…”Poor deer”…”Poor cat”…and she’d construct elaborate stories about what their lives must have been like. It gave us the opportunity to talk about the “Circle of Life.”
Marie didn’t ask for anything for her birthday this year. Three years ago she begged us for months to allow her to sleep “under the stars.” We gave in for her thirteenth birthday. She had it all planned. Then a snowstorm hit the day before. I knew I wouldn’t sleep a wink worrying she’d freeze. Nevertheless, at 5pm she dug a cave not far from the house, dressed warmly, bundled up in a sleeping bag and settled in with three large dogs and a dozen cats. To my relief, she returned at 10pm. She had fallen asleep and was surprised it wasn’t later, but she smiled with bright pink cheeks, exhilarated!
She is very imaginative, and she loves learning about the environment. She rescues injured wild animals and is successful! I envision that someday she’ll have a home filled with domestic and wild creatures --sort of like the beautiful lady in “Thomasina” (a must-see Disney movie from the ‘60’s). Last year when we traveled back to the East Coast for our “family“ vacation, Marie stayed here with friends and relatives in order to manage the farm. She was milking three dairy goats and would not be convinced that someone could it for her. It was really hard leaving her, but she was safe and content. The second day she called with the news she’d jumped into the pond to save a baby deer. Never one for cell phones, but obedient to carry one at all times while we were away, she drowned the phone…but saved the fawn. She actually did well with it, having taken care of baby goats. She was disappointed to learn that it would be illegal to raise it with her goat herd. Dutifully, she did as she was instructed and, with the help of the local game warden, hid it in the grass beyond the pond a few nights later. She was still within the window of time in which the mother would search and search and listen for her baby’s call. The fawn wasn’t there the next morning and Marie was satisfied.
Our oldest daughter has graduated from college into the “real world.” Emily is successful and we are extremely proud. I cried the day we took her to college. Time had passed too quickly since I became her stepmom. I wanted more years. I asked Bruce if he was sad. He thought about it and replied, “You know, this is what I always wanted for her, how can I be sad?” Our second oldest, Sharon, is away at college and it hasn’t been any easier, but I was more prepared. I am thankful for the years we had her under this roof. I am extremely thankful that she has grown into such an intelligent and wise young woman.
I joke with Bruce that we won’t really have to experience “empty nest syndrome” because we’ll probably have many grandchildren by the time Margaret hits her college campus. I try not to take these days for granted, and try to enjoy every moment. Today we’ll celebrate Marie’s unique and wonderful life. Perhaps someday when she leaves for college I’ll have sleepless nights, listening for her call. I won’t find her warm and close like the doe found her baby fawn. But, like Marie with her fawn and Bruce with Emily, I’ll feel satisfaction and pride, and most of all, humble thanks.
Happy Birthday, Marie!
God Bless you all!
The Abbey Farm