My mom had a very awkward sense of humor, which I thankfully inherited.

We used to spend a whole hour in the hallmark store’s funny card isle reading and then laughing uncontrollably at the gross-humor cards, tears streaming down our faces, doubled over in stomach cramping joy, until we had had our funny-fill. 

God I miss her.

My mom died right after turning 50.  She was really sick for about 5 years before she went, and couldn’t be her true self during that time, so I always think of her actually living for about 45 years. 

That is a very short time.

I turned 37 this year.  Because of my mom, I am ever conscious of how old this actually is, based on her timeline. 

She had a great singing voice, cooked like a maniac, was an artist and professional birthday party planner.  We even had birthday parties for our dogs (she was also a huge animal lover) which often involved Mc Donald’s cheeseburgers, party hats, candles, and of course, decorations.

The things I miss most about my mom involve her just being herself. 

Although she never became a business mogul, PTA president or famous anything, everyone loved her.  Even when she pissed them off, they still loved her, deep down. 

When I was at my most scared in life, she was the only one who could calm me down and make me believe in myself again.  Her gifts were being human – not being perfect or making a big splash.  Just being herself, applying that, and doing what came naturally.

It seems like it is much harder to achieve the experience of being a “real person” these days.  Everyone is trying to fit into some expectation or trend, whether it’s being spiritually enlightened, quirky to a fault, rebellious or extremely intellectual.  It often seems like there’s a lack of “real” people amongst us since the age of the internet. 

We are all trying to stand out, stand for something, or just be impressive somehow. Before we do anything, we check out what everyone else is doing; then we try to copy them or one-up them.

It’s exhausting.

Perhaps my mom was lucky to have lived in a time of different expectations from my generation and the ones coming after me.  It’s been ten years this month since she died.

We have so many opportunities now that it’s easy to feel like a failure if you aren’t taking advantage of it all, making your mark in the new world, moving ahead.

You are practically expected to abandon what comes naturally in exchange for the fast pace of it all.  Birthday parties seem like more of an obligation than something fun to do to most people today, because who has the time or energy?

But life loses its luster when we stop being real.  We feel empty.  We long for truth.  We miss ourselves and everyone else.

The joy of remembering those moments with my mom recreates the feeling of being loved by her, and I suddenly feel like a rich person because I own the experience of connecting with a mother I deeply cherished; a mother who shared the gift of being truly herself with me, and in doing so dared me to be as bold.

That is the mark my mom made in my world. 

And in many ways, because of that, she was the bravest person I have known.

What mark do you want to leave to the world?  Have you thought about it lately? 

My mom’s been gone for ten years now, but her essence still affects who I am and who I want to be.  In some ways I want to live up to her golden standard of saying “who gives a shit?” (which she said a lot when people questioned her or themselves) – and just be who I am, without asking permission from anyone.  I believe we all want that.

 None of us is going to live forever.   It’s time to make your mark on the world.