Happy Birthday, Mom!

Mrs. Myrtle W. Raiford taught her daughter, Sharon, how to become a valiant woman.

Mrs. Myrtle W. Raiford taught her daughter, Sharon, how to become a valiant woman. Mrs. Raiford turned age 90 on October 7, 2009.

Dear Mom,

I know that your loved ones have taken many photos of you since this one was snapped back in 1996.  And that’s okay because this image conjures up so many warm and beautiful memories for me. I froze this memory while you and I were on the beach in Santa Monica.  You loved spending your summer vacations in California, waking up to joyous sounds of seagulls, rollerskaters, people frolicking on the beach and the laughter of children. 

Although I only had thirty days with you, I relished every moment I had to spend with you.  I loved looking at the contrast of your cotton-soft hair against the brilliant green of our sun-kissed California meadows.  You purchased a bright yellow top from the Santa Monica Pier just to remind me where the other part of your heart lives. 

You and I shared many philosophical conversations with each other, too.  I always think about the story you told me about how flocks of pelicans always follow protocol. “When the leader tires, another one takes its place,” you said. “There are never two leaders at the same time.” 

I have applied this observation to many aspects of my human life, even in my marriage.  As you know, Grand and I are both commanding spirits with individual strengths and intellectual prowess.  That’s why it’s healthier for us to accept each other as independent leaders in our household, separated only by gender.  So whenever he grows tired of carrying the torch, I take over and lead the flock.  We are a good team.  

You and I have experienced so much throughout our lifetime together.  For the most part, I remember the simple things — such as feigning sleep when you tucked me in a night when I was a child to tucking you in whenever I have an opportunity. I had a dream the other night about picking apples from our backyard tree and paring them with you.  My best Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays were spent with you. Even when I became very sick, it was you who gave me the strength to fight.

I am beyond grateful to Janice and Kenneth for taking such good care of you in New York. I’ve mentioned before that Janice is an angel on Earth. Well, someone brought that angel to Earth and someone helped developed this angel into one of the more generous and caring people I know.  I would like to think that Janice and I are reflections of the woman you are and have always been.  So thank you, Mom, for turning us into valiant women with drive and purpose.

And thank you for helping me become the better part of you.  With love always and forever, Sharon.

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