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A Gift To Myself

I usually make an effort to get to my hometown of Salt Lake City in the summer around my Mother’s birthday, August 28th.  In the past, I’ve stayed about a week, often on an extended motorcycle trip. This year though I decided to escape the hellish heat of the desert for the entire month of August, which for the most part, I have been spending here in Salt Lake, staying with my Mom and her husband Ron.

It’s been a wonderful month, and it’s winding down fast. Today is Mom's 82nd birthday, and she’s as young and as pretty as ever, and you would never guess her to be 82 years old. She really doesn’t ever want any presents – “more things to dust” she says. All she really wants is my time and maybe a card, and maybe we go to lunch or dinner.

Well we’ve spent a lot of time together this trip. Sometimes doing mundane things like going for a long four-mile exercise walk most mornings, visiting the local farmers market for produce, and just sitting on the couch talking. And we’ve done some wonderful things like explore her roots and her childhood – visiting the homes she lived in here in Salt Lake as a teenager, and her hometown of Clifton, Idaho.
We spent a night in Clifton at her cousin’s house – which used to belong to her Aunt Jane, the one-time general store proprietor and postmistress of the map-dot town of Clifton. We did our morning power walk all over this little farming village, walking down the main street of town, past where her childhood home once stood – an area that now is a field farmed by her cousin, but where a patch of flowers still blooms every spring near where their front door once stood, now surrounded by acres of alfalfa.
Then further down the highway towards where her Grandmother used to live – passing over the irrigation canal that they used to go swimming in as kids, reminiscing about her life as a little girl growing up in this small farm town. I loved hearing her stories and remembrances -- how she'd walk down to Grandma's House, now a whitewashed empty farm shed on the old property where her Grandpa settled back in the 1930s and where her Mother was raised.  When she'd walk down to her Grandma's house, Mom's job was to watch the fields for her Grandpa's tractor to turn at this tree on the far side across the valley from the old family farm and head back to the house and to let Grandma know so she could get his supper on the table.
We took a number of pictures, even driving up in the evening to the small cemetery overlooking the town – where her grandparents, aunts and uncles are all buried.  It’s a very peaceful and serene place. I think she’d like to rest up here one day, but she and Ron already have “file drawers” paid for in an above ground crypt here in a cemetery in Salt Lake. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more peaceful and serene cemetery with such a nice view.
We documented the Idaho trip as well as the early homes in Salt Lake with photos as Mom is reworking her journals into a life story. It was a very special privilege for me to help her with this. I think I learned more about her early life than I ever have in the past, and we shared more memories and stories of our own than I can remember on those long four mile morning walks that wear me out but don't seem to phase her despite her years.

So, her “gift”, if you will this year, was a trip to a new trendy ice-cream sandwich place after lunch at her favorite Mexican restaurant today. Not really much, but special nonetheless. But the more I think of it, I’ve realized that it was me who got the gift for her birthday, not her. The priceless gift of quality personal time with my Mom.  Thanks Mom, I couldn't have asked for a better gift on your birthday.

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