My Mother’s Birthday

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My mother died in 1991 – she would have been 91 years old on this November 28th.  When she was 72, she made a tape, telling all of the family stories she could recall.  She gave this accounting of the day she was born in  Morrow, a small railroad town in Ohio.

“On Thanksgiving Day my father came downstairs and he told my mother, he said, ‘I dreamed we had a little girl and we named her Martha’ and she said, ‘Well, you better go get the doctor because I think your dream’s going to come true’ and he went for the doctor and I was born before the doctor got there.  He went running down and said, ‘Hurry up, hurry up, doctor, the baby’s already here’ and old Doc said, ‘There’s no use hurrying if your baby’s already here.'”

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So, we always associated Mother’s birthday with Thanksgiving and occasionally it even fell on the exact day.  In 1952, her birthday was on the day after Thanksgiving.  I had been away from home for the first time, living with my new sailor husband in Portsmouth, Virginia.  As it turned out, my husband got an early discharge from the Navy and was due to go home the first week of December.  I wanted to surprise my mother by walking in on her birthday and we decided I would go home alone and my husband would follow when his discharge came through, so we spent our first Thanksgiving together just waiting around for time for me to get on the train and never did get a Thanksgiving meal.

I rode on the clackety train all night and arrived home on a chilly November morning.  I walked out of Union Terminal in downtown Cincinnati, hailed a cab and watched the familiar landscape go by the window with complete joy, vowing to never leave Cincinnati again.  We pulled up to the front of my parents’ little house and I got out of the cab to pay the driver.

My father was just coming through the gate and he stopped short.  He didn’t say anything to me, but turned and called back to Mother, “Lil’s home.”  My favorite image of heaven is that I will pass to the other side and will see my father in the distance, wearing his twill pants and plaid shirt.  He won’t speak to me or raise a hand in greeting – he’ll just turn to the others and say, “Lil’s home.”

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I had the supreme pleasure of walking through the side door into the dining room and completely surprising Mother on her birthday.

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I know that Mother’s best gift that year was having her daughter back home and since we rented the upstairs apartment from my parents for 8 years (at the astounding fee of $12.00 a month) before our family got too large, we had a lot of wonderful times together.

I always think of Mother on Thanksgiving and all the great dinners we had together, but I remember especially the year that I was one day late for Thanksgiving but right on time for a special birthday.

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Lillian Applegate Westfelt was a mother of 4, grandmother of 6, and great-grandmother of 3. She was an 86-year-old widow living in a nice little bungalow with her oldest daughter and a beagle-dachsund named Addie. She passed away in November, 2018.

17 thoughts on “My Mother’s Birthday”

  1. I could look at old photos forever. Other’s as well as my own. Thanks for sharing these intimate memories of your family. It is very touching.
    Blessings,
    Mary dtr of Gus.

  2. That made me cry Lillian, the bit where you talked about seeing your father in heaven and him saying “Lil’s home”. I just started leaking…
    Another beautifully written memory.
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Your lovely memory brought tears to my eyes, also. Happy Birthday to your mother. I wondered for a moment if your mother might have known my grandfather’s railroading family in Morrow, but they lived there too long ago. I don’t have you mother’s maiden name in my family database. Might you share it with me one day?

  4. A lovely and very loving story of your family’s history. I am sure both your parents are smiling down on you with great love and pride.

  5. I have goosebumps from reading this loving account of that birthday surprise, Lillian! How fun & I bet your Mom never forgot it either.
    Loved seeing your wedding photo beside her & also the one of your Dad, too.
    Such fond memories…you are blessed.
    I hope your T’day was great….our’s was. Spending the rest of the day putting away dishes & stuff. Tomorrow the decorating begins!!
    Hugs,
    Rett

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