Happy Birthday, Mom

Happy Birthday, Mom is the author’s open letter to his mother, which details the impact she has had on his life and how the love she has shown for her children has shaped him into the man he is today.


Every year, the men of the Messink house silently prepare for today. As August 13th draws closer, my brothers and I could always be found frequenting the Walgreens by our home, sifting through hundreds of cards before finding the right one. My mother would find them, on the morning of each birthday, sitting at the center of the table at the foot of a vase of flowers. She has always been a woman of simple pleasures, my mother. She’s not one for fancy jewelry, has never asked for expensive gifts, and there’s yet to be a year when my mother demands we take her out to dinner. Instead, she is ruled by sentiment. Each year, her eyes light up at the cards or letters we give her. A secret horde of lovely words and wishes, they can be found scattered among the books and Bibles around our home. So today, I’ve decided to embrace the changing times and make use of the technology we have been given in order to give her this gift.


Mom,

Thank you for the love you have given me throughout every period of my life. For the 4 a.m. rides to the hospital, where you or Dad held me as my lips turned blue from Croup, thank you. It could not have been easy, as a parent, to watch your child in such pain but you bore it with grace and, to this day, I have never felt in danger while wrapped in your arms. Thank you for the love you showed me in middle school, when I knew that even if other kids thought I was weird or different, I could return home to the kind words of affirmation from my fiercely protective mother. And in high school, while I suffered from the pains of growing and coming to accept my identity, thank you for never wavering in expressing your total and unconditional love for the man I am even when it meant redefining your relationship with God.

Thank you for the years of sacrifice, for all of the moments that went unnoticed, where you showed me that a parent’s love pours from a cup with no bottom. Thank you for the times we have shared and the places we have seen, for showing me the beauty of the world that laid beyond the comfort of these four walls. Thank you for teaching me to laugh at life and not take myself seriously, and for putting me in my place when and if I started to. Thank you for showing me what it means to truly love someone else in a way that reflects God’s unconditional love for us, and for reminding me of that love when I have failed to extend it to myself. And above all, thank you for choosing to meet life where it stood, for facing down the hardships and trials that it has laid before you and choosing to see the positives in every thing and person you encounter.

You are a gift to our family, the very glue that keeps us held together, even if we may not realize it. The sacrifices you have made for us, and the love you have shown, has helped shape my life into what it has become today. Without you, I would not be the man I am today: I would be aimless and alone, an unconfident, loveless man wandering through life in search of both path and purpose. Thank you for believing in my dreams and capabilities when I could not see them. Thank you for allowing me, whenever I have needed it, to come home and recollect my thoughts as I tried to find my way. And thank you for reading this post, and every other, and for being my biggest fan, through and through. To the mother who sees as much beauty in a child’s dandelion as in a bouquet of white roses, I love you. Now and Forever.

Your Son,

Joseph

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