Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. I spent the day with Brett, driving home from Whitman College. We’d had a wonderful time exploring the campus, deciding which classes she wanted to take, and feeling pampered in a fine old Bed and Breakfast. It seemed a perfect way to celebrate my memories of my mother.

Mother always ended each visit by saying, “Didn’t we have fun?” No matter what we had done, it was always, in her view, the best visit ever. She had a knack for creating good times in any circumstances and for seeing the good in every situation.

My dad spent his last nine years in a nursing home, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. Because he had been an executive with the Hormel meat company, my parents had a pig collection. Mother decided to have a “Pig Parade” at the nursing home.  I baked dozens of pig-shaped cookies, packed them in a box, and carried them on the plane from Seattle to San Francisco. Mother and I packed all of her pig figuerines and other pig memorabilia in boxes and transported everything to the nursing home.

The dining/recreation room was lined with patients in wheelchairs, and curious staff members took their breaks to watch the Pig Parade. We displayed each pig and Mother told where it was from. Those that weren’t breakable got passed around. Even patients who couldn’t follow the explanations seemed to enjoy touching the stuffed pigs, and my dad acted pleased to see the pigs again. I served the cookies on napkins decorated with pig stickers.

That night, as we put the pigs away in her condo, Mother said, “Didn’t we have fun?” and I could honestly answer, “Yes. The Pig Parade was wonderful.”

When Mother had cataract surgery, I went to stay for a few days to be her driver and to help with eye drops, etc. On the second day of her recovery, she felt well enough for us to have lunch at a small cafe’ near her home. “Isn’t this fun?” she asked, as we waited for our lunches. “Aren’t we lucky that we could do this today?”

Each Christmas was the best one we’d ever had. Every birthday celebration topped the charts of birthdays.

What a gift she gave me! By example, she taught me to appreciate each moment, to live life with joy no matter what the circumstances, and to find something to celebrate in every situation.

I miss her every day and always will, but oh my, didn’t we have fun?