Ava Grace's Closet: A Letter to Myself on my 50th Birthday
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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A Letter to Myself on my 50th Birthday

Dear Susan,
You are always writing letters to your children - in hopes of them one day reading them and understanding what they meant to you. Who they were at that particular time in their lives. And perhaps, learning a little bit more about the woman they call mom. You see, and you tell them this often, before you were "mom", you were Susan. 
You had an entire life before them. And struggled with so many of the same things. Perhaps more so.
The pickiest of eaters.
The moodiest of girls. 
You too were lazy and slept till noon.
Your mother before you tiptoed around in the early mornings so you could do so.
And though you hate to admit it, so many other things you do as a mother you learned from her.
Different. But the same.
Remember when you thought 50 was old?
Your beloved uncle Boris died at 50. Only now do you realize how young he was.
And with each passing year, somehow 60, 70 and beyond - well, they don't seem old anymore.

Susan, you have made mistakes. Wrong choices. 
And you will have put faith and love in many who did not deserve it.
But from each of these people, you will have learned valuable lessons. 
Somehow, through it all, you are still the most forgiving person you know.
It takes a lot for you to hold hatred. To not continue to see the good in people. To let go.
But when you finally do, you will have learned that they didn't deserve your goodness in the first place.
You will question yourself.
You will replay moments in your mind.
And you will wonder how you didn't see all of it sooner.
Today, on your 50th Birthday, you will learn that there are Judas' among us. And that you have met more than your fair share of them.

You will learn that things that happened in childhood will carry you through life.
And though they will be sometimes be foggy, your memories will be good ones.
Times at the beach.
Times waiting for your ever so social mother to come out to the car when you were all but asleep.
All the family singing.
Which you thought was so ridiculous then, will move you to tears now.
You will have cried many times about the one day loss of your parents. The mere thought of it always having been too much.
And this past year will have tried you.
You will almost have lost your beloved dad. And he will have changed. You will need to remember the man he was because he too will face his own challenges and struggles that you may not always understand.
Getting old is hard.
Your mom will have been hospitalized for far too long.
And you will see the strongest person you ever knew become weak and childlike.
You will have to juggle keeping up at home, work and hospital visits.
You will have become a caretaker.
Your roles will have reversed.
And oh, there will be a pandemic.
Susan, your first love will break you.
It will.
It has deep roots and most of them are painful. They will leave you not knowing what true love is.
They will leave you thinking it has to hurt to be love.
And you will have struggled with this for a long time.
It will make you accept less.
It will have you thinking it is o.k. 
Sometimes, it will have you thinking you deserve it.
But then, one day.
One fine day.
Someone will come along and change all that.
And only then, then, will you learn what it means to truly get and give love.
It will be worth the wait.

You are a good mother.
You will always prefer cats to dogs.
You love fresh crisp sheets and a clean house.
You love the written word and photographs.
When life is hard, you are extra nostalgic.
Of ten getting lost in memories of years gone by.
You are funny.
You always put on a brave face. Even on hard days.
And you are a good friend.
Sometimes, getting a word in with you is tough.
You talk too much.
You think too fast.
And you laugh too loud.
You love chocolate. Coffee. Cookies.
And the simplest of food.
You are social. But you love to be alone.
You are a hugger.
You are a collector.
You are a good daughter.
Today, you are 50.
Happy Birthday to you.


  1. Dearest Susan,
    Happy Birthday to you once again. So special you share it with my Pieter, who had it 41 times more often... What is age? What are years... NOTHING! You know, when I had my skin cancer surgery done and got to pick up a package of ScarAway to put on at night, it made me laugh inside. That's exactly what we need to patch up in our entire life. Not ScareAway but ScarAway. Let it heal, overnight and slowly! Life leaves scars on our body and often on our souls. But they all heal graciously if we let them!
    Sure, it cannot happen without coffee, chocolate, laughter and talking. Yes, I'm all with you on that and what I've learned over the years that I tried to put Pieter's life in front of him, once more before it is too late and fading away, it is balm for anyone's soul. First I scanned all slides, then photo albums (yes ALL!) and then scrapbooks and old videos. Stupid are those of the 60s that are silent... Like torture for trying to figure out what is being said. But yet, knowing this longing for the real words, young people create vlogs with often music OVER all the words, the sounds of the time. They WILL regret that later - much later! Life is unforgiving, it rushes us through and nothing can be re-lived but good photos, good videos can give you those feelings once more. You CAN relive many things and feel so grateful, the souls flutters... Thank goodness for technology nowadays.
    You are a very smart and very special lady for WRITING! Such a rare gift nowadays as many only know how to create selfies and often without explaining where/why/how... Do they think they will remember that over time - NO!
    Keep up with that, it will do your soul a lot of good over times to come.
    Life is not smooth and not like a perfect opened fragrant rose.
    Life lets us fully being aware of the thorns that the rose bares and we must understand that it is ALL part of its beauty.
    The beautiful rose often gets picked by the wrong 'admirer'... not even a true lover!
    That too is part of the game... I myself got chosen by the wrong one for the wrong reasons.
    Now, those scars have healed and knowing he's at peace in heaven, I hope, after his self-destructed (alcohol damage early on) life with early ending around age 51.

  2. Keeping our pride is important and also knowing that no other goes through life smoothly without upheavals. If they pretend otherwise, they are big liars. Usually those are the very same people that never ever write down a personal (not borrowed uhm plagiarism!) thought or feeling. They lack the courage for doing so. They're but a mere shadow of something, somebody else... That must end in a miserable old age when they start searching for their memories. There are none. We create them when we're younger, by being daring, by saying something that will last and have an impact on our life or someone else's, we share a thought from the heart. Not borrowed feelings that come ready printed on a cart, or for use on social media. No, nothing 'instant' but PURE.
    THAT dear friend is what has made you stand out.
    Your children will one day love you for that, they still do not fully comprehend what it means.
    I do, having all those letters that my Mom wrote to me over the years. Her 2nd born daughter that left so far away. Often I thought, aside from missing her on special days, who else has the privilege of receiving her written thoughts of the moment over so many years?! A TREASURE and one day I work them by date into a blog. It is of course all in Dutch but her children, grands and great-grands are many. This is the BEST book for them. A love story, full of struggles and pain yes, but with lots of gratitude and warmth.
    Okay, end it here, had to write it in three segments as we got so many messages etc. for Pieter and he's now taking his nap.
    The best moment was late last night when I found (by searching for somebody else, a scientist from Poland...) on the International Society for Mushroom Science, all of the early publications of the Dutch magazine that Pieter wrote so often for. Precious to see, to read and to find a photo of him from 1957 when he'd just began working for the Dutch government in his new position. So handsome. It made me melt and I had to wake up my Pieter around 1:30 AM to tell him... He smiled!
    Went to sleep like being on cloud nine.
    Yes, our Angels we know by name at times can steer us into the right direction for finding some more vitamins for our soul... nothing you can buy commercially that will have the same impact.

  3. Oh Mariette, knowing you over all of these years has been such a gift to me. Your wisdom - your amazing stories - your words of encouragement - and of course, the rare opportunity to meet you and Peter together with Celia that beautiful summer day that feel like it was years ago.

    I, like you, love the written word. Photographs that I can hold. And memories made for my children that one day, far into the future, they will think back on and smile. Yesterday, a birthday in quarantine, showed me who is in my tightest inner circle - and we need but a few. What my Isabella did for me (along with help from her brother and sister) will live with me forever - much longer than any big soiree!

    I wish Pieter a happy, HAPPY birthday. It was an amazing day to be born.
    Love you both.

  4. Happy Birthday once again you have a wonderful way of interpreting life. I also thought 50 was old & I too lost my brother at that age, I hope once this is all over we can get together and have a drink. Stay strong, stay safe.

    1. I didn't know that Connie - how devastating. I did lose an uncle (as you read above) at 50 and never realized until much later in life how young he was. I would love that! You as well my friend.

  5. Happy birthday, Susan. Best wishes.

    1. Thank you so much Nancy! I hope you are well and safe.


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