Last year at this time, I had just spoken to my Madrina (Godmother) over the phone wishing her a happy Leap Year Birthday. She turned 85.
Exactly one month ago, my dear Godmother passed away suddenly and was not able to celebrate her 86th birthday. Thankfully, she did not die from COVID, nor was she ailing for long. She fell. She was alone.
I had spoken to her just a month before she passed and she told me she had started walking again, going to church, and enjoying the days in her home by the mountains. I immediately thought of an old Doris Day song my mom sings over the phone to me quite often as she reminisces. It’s called, “Enjoy Yourself”
It’s later than you think
While you’re still in the pink
The years go by
As quickly as a wink
It’s later than you think
This is one thing my Godmother always told me, enjoy yourself, enjoy your kids, enjoy your family, and enjoy life.
In honor of my Godmother, I am reposting last year’s Leap Year Baby story about her.
Lenten Reflections #13
On February 29, 1935, my Godmother was born.
In Leap Year math terms, she’s had 21 true birthdays. So today is especially busy for her. Let’s just say if an angel got their wings every time her phone rang today, the halo business would be booming. I was among her callers who sang the traditional Happy Birthday and a few lines of Las Mañanitas, her favorite birthday song.
I filled her in on the kids and our treks from swim meets to tennis matches, and then baseball games. In lockstep, she reminded me to enjoy every moment of their childhood, because it goes too fast. “What are their ages?” she asked. When I said, 17, 15 and 14, she jumped in and as if reading from a mom script, said, “Oh college is coming up, that’s expensive.” She continued, “It’s when they go away that’s hard.” I knew she was referring to the outrageous cost attached to out of state tuition, but I also knew from our previous conversations that her statement meant more. She’s always been candid and honest about being a mom.
When we chat, her kind, subtle NM accent reminds me of home. I listen to how she recalls life as a mom…and I can hear how quickly life’s pages turn, the moment you’re suddenly not going to baseball games or PTA meetings anymore but airports to pick up your kids who are “just visiting”. I can’t help but think of how she felt the first Sunday morning when she stopped looking for a large section on a church pew, but instead, was able to slip in at the end of a row because she was alone.
She tells me she prays for me every night and every morning. When she says it, I feel my body relax. Somehow simply knowing someone whose faith is at their core is thinking of me, makes me feel cloaked in love. To me, she’s like one of the saints Catholics have for everything. We pray to them when illness, accidents or a loss occurs and we know they have our backs. That’s my Godmother. I know her prayers for me are deep, no-nonsense and true.
Chances of being born on a leap day are about one in 1,461, according to the BBC. In fact, some astrologers say leap year babies may possess special talents and luck. I agree. When I look at the picture of the day I was baptized, I think about all my Godmother has taught me: to cherish time with my family, knowing they will eventually live under different roofs; keep faith at the forefront; and hope our kids will thrive with credence, compassion, and kindness.