A birthday song for my mother

Writing a song for your mom's birthday is like ripping open your body right above the solar plexus and letting the ghosts from your childhood reappear. The thought to do this struck me whilst vacationing in Prague a week before my mom's 70th birthday. It was a big one, a significant one that had the potential to wreak all kinds of havoc on my wispy soul. It was the age my grandfather died a miserable death after an awful stretch of bone cancer, and I, unable to bear the pain of seeing the mere husk of him, hid from the truth. It is also 30 years longer than my dad had on this earth, before he, too, was felled by the vicious creature. It is, in a farm village in rural Austria, generally considered the age, when people think of you as OLD. But I don't think of my mom that way. Yes, she is fragile due to her long illness (she has multiple sclerosis), but she is tough, that one. Weathered and stringy, like a strip of well-worn leather, with a life of hard work and the deep creases of hardship etched around slightly hazy eyes. A life of dreams lost or given up, for the sake of survival of herself and her children. Of constant struggle against the forces that would tear her family apart, that would rob her of the strength she needed to get up every morning, get behind her own sysiphusian rock and start pushing it up the mountain, knowing that she would have to do it all over again the next day. Of seeing her children grow up into responsible, healthy adults who would follow their own dreams, creating their own lives which still included hers.
Sitting in the botanical garden in Prague, armed with a pencil and a piece of paper, I was engulfed by the spirits of a time long gone that, surprisingly, still had a stronghold smack in the middle of my heart. It was time to give thanks, to acknowledge and appreciate all that I have been able and allowed to do, because she kept getting up every morning, doing what she could, never giving up and never letting the demons win.