So every year, almost without exception, on the eve of my birthday, Mom would retell the story of my birth. It went something like this:
"Well, you were supposed to be delivered by C-section a week or so later, but as you know, you came into this world saying 'I'd rather do it myself, Mama!' It became pretty clear that you were about to make your appearance earlier than we'd planned, and on the night of March 3rd, 1966, it was storming and flooding all over middle Georgia! But we knew we had to get to Macon where my doctor was, so we called Mrs. Kay to come stay with the "big kids," and Barbara and George Spicer got in the car with us and we headed up the road. There was no I-16 then, so the typical route to Macon was up Hwy 80, but it was UNDER WATER in places, so we had to go a roundabout way to get there, and Barbara was just sure she was going to have to deliver you in the back seat of the car! But we finally made it there, and you made your appearance at 7:12 the next morning, 'all by yourself.' What a gift you have been, my precious Jill!"
Also, every year, literally without fail, I would receive a birthday greeting similar to the one I got from her this time last year. This is what she wrote:
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my precious Jill!!!!! March 4th, 1966 was most likely the happiesst day if my life, & little did I know just how much I would come to LOVE & depend on you!!! THANK YOU FOR ALL OF THE MANY HAPPY DAYS YOU HAVE GIVEN ME...& for all the happy days we have to look forward to!! I am planning on lots of those!!! Don't ever forget that I LOVE YOU MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
But as hopeful as I was this time last year, I knew it would likely be my last birthday with her here on earth with me. So I've saved that email from March 4, 2009, and will read it every year on my birthday, because, well...because my birthday just wouldn't be the same without my Mama's birthday wishes for me.
Thank you, Mom, for having me. For loving me. For teaching me. And for making me feel so very important, on my birthday and always. I miss you lots tonight.