Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you and miss you.


My mom sent me a gift this year on her birthday. She would have been 91 on March 2. We would have celebrated around the dining room table with the fancy chinaware and silver-stitched linen table cloth, along with my niece whose birthday is February 29, keeping her 9 until another leap year. Sharing her birthday and that leap-year baby are other stories attesting to her generosity.

This one is about the reach of Shirley Stone’s devotion and resolve that showed up in my email on March 2, 2014, because I’m without doubt it was directed from whatever cloud or treetop she’s long settled upon, probably in Sycamore.

I woke up on her birthday to an “official” email from Ragdale, an artist/writer-in-residence retreat in Lake Forest, IL, saying there was a last-minute opening I was welcome to attend. Starting March 3. Until March 21. Eighteen days of writing nirvana, and if there’s a heaven for everyone, this is surely mine.

Of course so many others make this possible―from my husband and daughters, son-in-law and leap-year niece, to a mentor who happens to be here now, too, and more recently acquired mentors from StoryStudio and LinkedIn. I can’t yet put into words my gratitude to the Ragdale Retreat and Foundation, comprised of creative souls who found me worthy of a place on their waiting list; and the friendliest, most encouraging fellow retreaters and staff, each enabling this to be the most likely spot for me to write words worthy of other’s time.

I don’t believe in coincidence. March 2 is always a bittersweet day since my mom passed away. I descend from a long line of incredibly strong women, and the email from Ragdale on March 2, 2014, is testament. Look at all Shirley Stone orchestrated to surround me in a setting that allows me the space to recount the stories she always knew I would tell.

I hope I will make you proud, Mom. I miss you but thank you for your gift: a reminder you are no further than my heart.