Happy 63rd Birthday, Patti!
Today, let's celebrate Patti! Another year older, but nothing is slowing down her positivity, creativity, and love for her family. We all know that 2020 has been a YEAR and for our family, it recently became heavier as we learned of my mom’s diagnosis of ALS about 6 weeks ago. This news was and still is devastating as there is no cure YET for ALS, but Mom has taken this diagnosis and turned it into a quest for living each day to the fullest. Her unwavering love of family will always be felt by all of us, her weekly baked goods fill our bellies, and her passion for the ocean air helps us all breathe a little easier these days.
Six years ago, when Tyler and I bought the house across the street from my parents, I never realized just how invaluable that decision would be. Being able to share each day with them is priceless. My girls get to wave to them as they head to the bus stop each morning, yell out to them from the front porch to ask where they are going as they see the cars backing out, or run across the street to get their hair curled by Nonnie before a “Fancy Friday” day at school. How are we so lucky? I may not have inherited the gene for baking, hostessing, and wrapping everything beautifully in cellophane, but I certainly know that being a mother is the greatest gift. I have learned from the very best and I will continue to embrace my mom’s passion for life and all that she does as we continue on this journey together, making the most out of each and every day regardless of the obstacles that come our way.
I believe the best birthday gift we can give to Patti is to continue to do the same, safely and with a mask, as we all send her the positive vibes that she exudes out to her generous, supportive community of family and friends. Happy Birthday, Mom!
Today, on Patti Drinkwater’s 63rd birthday, I’m feeling much more aligned with my mother than I ever thought I would. Surely my 17-year-old self would have been shocked to hear my 39-year-old self proudly declare, “Mom and I are the same!” But it’s true. I might not have her superpower baking and wrapping and decorating abilities, but I do believe we share the same heart. We may express ourselves differently - she’s more of a heart-on-her-sleeve lady while I wear a lot of sarcastic layers over mine - yet the underlying sentiments are parallel. It’s the power of empathy that she’s given me - the ability to listen and comfort and give, to take on others’ emotional pain and then attempt to mitigate the agony. When our loved ones hurt, we want to jump in their place and protect them, siphoning out the bad so they can feel only the good.
It’s not always practical or healthy. It also creates an interesting dynamic between mother and daughter. For years, I didn’t get it. She wanted to protect me emotionally and I dismissed her efforts, confident that I could not only protect myself but the people I’d meet along the way. My mom and I were like two similar poles of magnets, pushing away when we got close.
It’s taken awhile (39 years to be exact) to balance our relationship and share our deepest selves. I’m drawn to her most when she’s less mother and more human. When I see the mischievous look in her eye when she’s relaxed and enjoying herself, cocktail in hand. When she says in a sneaky voice, “Let’s play a trick on Dad” or “Do you want to raid the ice cream in the freezer?” It’s her impulsive desire for fun and laughter. It’s her love for her friends and their vibrant social life. It’s her ability to be introspective and reflect on controversial topics and trying experiences. It’s also her ability to comment on our shared reality television addiction in the same conversation (we like to think we’re intelligent yet not above dabbling in trash). And, above all, it’s her empathetic nature.
So, it goes without saying that it’s hard for someone who cares deeply for others to receive that care themselves. My mom was diagnosed with ALS in October of this year. ALS is a disease that allows patients a mere 2-5 additional years of life and has no cure (YET). This diagnosis has illuminated my mom’s strengths. True to form, her concerns are not about herself but about how her family and friends will cope. Meanwhile, I feel forever changed in our relationship, able to channel her strength into my own heart; I want nothing more than to be with her, wrap her up, hug her, and shield her from the brutal physical and emotional pain of this disease. I feel a surge of limitless strength to carry her through this journey alongside my dad and sister and everyone else who loves her. She’s still the same person and will undoubtedly continue to embrace life and help us—just in a different form. She’s insistent that we feel no pity and instead enjoy the party.