Today is my Mother-in-law’s birthday. She would have been 54.
She is the reason we picked Oregon as our new home; her stories of a childhood in the Pacific Northwest were enchanting. The coast was her favorite. She loved the ocean breeze and the sand on her feet. She adored shrimp, oysters, & clams, anything fresh from the ocean. Now we make an annual pilgrimage to the coast for our son Vega’s birthday & send messages to her in the sand, which the waves wash out to sea.
Each morning as I sit on my front porch with coffee in hand, I think of her. Nana would have loved it here. She would have danced in our grassy yard with the big trees. She would have sat on our porch swing listening to the kaleidoscope of birdsong and smiled.
Walking through the neighborhoods, my son & I pick out the perfect houses for Nana, older ones like ours with big front porches and gardens in the back. Lots of Windows to let the sun shine in.
For her 50th birthday we dressed as gypsies and danced barefoot in her yard. The week before i shaved her head. We went shopping together at our favorite thrift shop and bought brightly colored flowing skirts & headscarfs. Perfect for dancing!
Every summer she grew sunflowers and violas, now i grow them too. My hollyhocks & lavender will remind me of our “gypsy days”, colorful and fragrant. My first lily bloomed today. What a birthday treasure! Gardening was her thing, so I grow my garden for her. It’s Nana’s garden.
She would love how the central Oregon summer goes on and on and on…..perfect for gardening and lots of evening bicycle rides with the kids. She would love drinking up oh so much sun, so many flip flop days. Toenails always painted, not hiding from the cold.
Tonight we will watch the Goonies (her favorite!) over a Nana-sized bowl of popcorn, extra butter. Nova & I will put on our skirts and dance bearfoot in the yard with flowers in our hair. Lots of happy music.
An ocean breeze is rolling over the mountings today. Warm and humid air, rare in the desert, wraps around us like a warm hug from Nana. When I close my eyes and breath in deep, I can almost smell the sea. I miss her, but she is with me always. And I love knowing that Nana would have loved it here.
–in memory of Merrilyn Veltri Papasodora.