Many people my age remember November 22 as the day President Kennedy was slain in Dallas. I won't bore you with that subject; far too much has been written on that already.
No, today was also my mother's birthday; Gladys Baker Weeks, her middle name was Eulalie. She's gone now, has been since '82. She was in the Navy before, and during World War II where she served as a cryptologist for Naval Intellegence, specializing in Japanese code. She simply didn't speak of her work, ever, other than to say she rode to work in a windowless bus in DC and assumed that where she worked was underground. When she died, we were sent a special commendation, signed by President Reagan. It still didn't mention what she did, but I can only assume that she did it very well.
She was a very plain spoken woman who had a talent for boiling down BS in order to get to the truth. This plain-spoken nature could be embarrassing, to be sure, but it was an intrinsic part of her nature and at times, hilarious. She loved to laugh.
What can I say? She was a good mother who whipped my ass when it was deserved and kissed my bruises and scrapes when it was needed. As I grew, she was always my biggest fan. As an only child, one would have thought me incredibly "spoiled" and, to a point, I suppose I was. One thing's for sure, though, I was raised to have respect and dignity and on those subjects, I was always on a very short leash. Looking back, I'm incredibly grateful for that, and, let's face it, for being fortunate in having her as a mother.
She died somewhat slowly, of cancer. I never could speak to her about that subject, the subject of terminal illness. Many times I tried, failing miserably, and she patted me and said "Don't worry, I know", and she did. One of the last pieces of wisdom(and there were many) she imparted to me was "Dying isn't the worst thing that happens to you; it's only the last".
RIP, while I never thought I thanked her enough, I'm sure she knew how much I loved and treasured her. I'm sure that she still does.