Make a wish


There she is. My mom.Mom on bday

I’ve written about my relationship with my mother previously.

She was a strong woman, an iron lady of sorts.

Ahead of her time. An executive when women were not. The primary breadwinner in our family. A demanding taskmaster. A force with which to be reckoned.

A stickler for table manners, decorum, intelligence.

And a woman I rarely saw make a wish.

Except as you see her, in this photograph.

Truth be told, I was not present at this birthday. I was in Chicago.

That makes my heart ache now.

Because, just look at her face.

The woman I have written about as emotionally closed, less than demonstrative, is glowing. And so obviously making a wish. Her happiness, in this moment, is palpable. It jumps out of that photograph and into my heart.

At some point in her eighth decade, my mother learned to feel again. Or so it seemed to me.

My sisters were raised by a different mother. Same woman, but less seasoned. I was raised by my mother in her 40s and beyond. Life had done a bit of a number on her by then.

Wishes were for those too passive to create their own future. Or so I was taught. “We do not wish for things, Kris, but rather we make them happen.”

Good advice, yes, but it leaves scant room for magic. And magic is what makes a face light up like my mother’s in this photograph.

After her career was done and she edged closer to her own mortality, I saw a softening.

The Nana who drank my son’s milk for him when he refused and I made him sit at the table. Her milk moustache gave her away.

My mother never would have done that. I sat at that same table for hours as a child, until I finally relented, drinking lukewarm milk that should have been downed with dinner.

Mom had learned love trumps rules, on occasion.

The woman who wrote one too many checks for a grandchild who was in trouble for things she would have disowned (literally) her own daughters for doing.

My mother had learned humanity trumps judgement.

Six burning  birthday candles over grey background. Selective focus, shallow depth of field
Six burning birthday candles over grey background. Selective focus, shallow depth of field

The look on Mom’s face? That look is because she is surrounded by an army of a family, one she helped to create. Numerous, loud, imperfect. After years of striving, she had found the Holy Grail. And it wasn’t her office, accolades or accomplishments.

It was us. Imperfect us.


When you have that, what do you wish for?

I have a feeling her wish was not for herself, hence the joy in that face. Her wish was for that imperfect us. And it was no longer that we achieve perfection. It was that we make our own way—messily as we go—and have a few wishes granted as we do.

In this photo, at least, my mother had found the magic. She had made a wish.

That is a right each of us should exercise more often.

I hope you send your desires out to the universe today with a feeling as luminous as my mother’s was on this birthday.

Go ahead.

Make a wish.

I can’t wait to hear what happens.



17 Comments Add yours

  1. Wonderful Kay!
    I loved this post. After reading that I wanna meet your mother.
    Its important to have someone teach children, make things happen rather than wish for them.

  2. Amy says:

    Ohhhhh, how I love this post. And your mother’s wonderful face. I think she was making a wish for all of you, too – a thought so poignant, so magical, it’s trickling down my cheeks now. So, so beautiful, so resonant, so you. You’re a beautiful writer, and a lovely human being. Blessings~ xo

  3. markbialczak says:

    What a great photograph of your mother at the stage of life-well-done, Kay. And you learned from her so well. Beautiful column, my friend.

  4. heyjude6119 says:

    Wonderful post. It reminded me of my relationship with my own mom.

  5. “That is a right each of us should exercise more often.” I completely agree. Beautiful post. Let’s never forget life’s magic.

  6. I love your raw honesty in this post.

  7. Kat says:

    That’s a lovely photo and you’re right, she glows in that photo 🙂

  8. A beautiful photo and reminder to us all Kay. Thankyou. 😉

  9. Love will do that to you. There you are, just minding your own business, working away at life, and one day bang, you feel it. Shrug it off but it sneaks back…and before you know it your hooked 🙂
    Great post Kay.

  10. Archita says:

    I think I agree with your mom- “Wishes were for those too passive to create their own future” So true right? But magic, yes, I believe in magic too. Mixture of both philosophy, that’s what the photograph of your mom shows. Such a beautiful tribute, Kristine.

    1. candidkay says:

      I agree with you on the balance. Wishing won’t make it so but wishing along with your own two hands? Amazing what can happen:).

  11. So many thoughts on this it’s hard to narrow it down. Makes me think a lot about my 83 year old mom who may not be around much longer. I think I will call her and see if she’s free for lunch tomorrow.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I love that! Please do. I miss lunch and shopping with my mom. After she died, I felt I had healed. And then was at mall and heard a mother/daughter chatting as they shopped. I had to run to ladies’ room so I could burst into tears in private. It’s those moments you miss.

  12. Dale says:

    It’s funny how that happens… they become grandmothers and all of a sudden, things that were absolutely taboo in our home are there in spades. My mother didn’t know how to show love as she was raised by a woman who did not know; but just like my grandmother, as she got older, started signing birthday cards with “from your grandmother who loves you”. I don’t know what triggered this sudden feeling of it being ok to show their emotions, but I’m really glad they did happen.
    Even though we were raised by my mother, the three of us sisters are all very verbal in telling our kids we love them. I guess we give what we missed.

    1. candidkay says:

      I love that you and your sisters are more demonstrative! Me too, with my children. I think it’s important for them to hear “I love you” and feel it often.

  13. candidkay says:

    Thanks, Cynthia. I plan on putting this one in a frame somewhere I can see it often. A nice reminder of joy.

  14. What a lovely photo of your mom, Kay. It’s nice to see.

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