Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Best Birthday Gift EVER

My daughter Nicole's blog entry on Friday, 18 September - my birthday. It's a most wonderful gift - one that is priceless, most touching and yes, it made me tear up.

Her Blog : En Route

Friday, September 18, 2009

My mother, the New Yorker

My mother, the New Yorker, is a project manager at the United Nations. It was from her that I inherited my insane knack for organization and documentation. Like her, systems for things are automatically generated my head, making multi-tasking ever so effortless and even amusing, as often laughed about by my own peers.

You can be anything that you want, as long as you put your heart into it, she told me one time, when she found me fear-stricken in the face of a challenge much larger than myself. They would be the exact same words that she would repeat at every significant milestone of my young adult life—while I hesitantly filled out college applications, my confidence faltering on the day of my debut as a CAT Platoon Leader, even as I reviewed for an applicant’s exam at the United Nations. I celebrated my various successes with her, since she was the driving force behind it all--my acceptance into two of the top universities in the country, a great year of high school CAT, tennis competitions, my college graduation, my published works and of course, the day that I passed the UN exam.

The very pillars of my determination and strength stem from this woman. She instilled in me a strong sense of independence and self-reliance; to move forward with life with a resolve so unyielding that I honestly believe I could end up anywhere I wanted in the world through my own hard work and determination.

As a child I would often spend school nights in her room, watching late night television and occasionally stealing glances at her, sitting with her back against the headboard, her focus unwavering as she filled page after page of her journal. An editor-in-chief in college, she passed on to me her passion to write, as I would remember holding onto a copy of the Scholastica opinion page at the young age of 7, not quite aware of the social issues apparent in her opinion columns, but proud nevertheless because I knew, by instinct perhaps, that they were significant.

She introduced me to poetry, explaining to me the magic of metaphors and ironies. My bedtime literature, through her guidance, consisted of passages written by poetry giants Elizabeth Barrett Browning and E.E. Cummings. By the time I was 10 I had already began dutifully chronicling the daily activities of my typical life as a fifth grader and experimenting with the 5-7-5 structure of haikus (both of which, again, were inspired by her). It is because of her that I have always been, and will always be, a writer.

Aside from being my mother, she is also my friend. My fondest memories of visiting New York year after year were, the simplest (and sometimes odd) things such as stalking tennis players on the grounds of the US Open, craving for ice cream or frozen yogurt on a chilly autumn day, heading to Central Park on a lazy Sunday morning with a copy of the New York Times and a container of fruit in tow, swapping stories about the discoveries I made during my aimless walks around the city and her busy day at the office, overeager trips to Ikea in Elizabeth….. General Chao Chicken, Shanghai Grill grilled pork chops, mushroom risotto…

Despite the times that we didn’t see eye to eye when it came to certain life decisions (especially mine), I knew, with the same certainty with which I regarded my life-long career as a writer, that I would always be her little baby, her only child, and that the challenges and successes of life would not be as fulfilling without her being an arms-length away for me to talk to or send a Facebook message to.

I live for every challenge that I continue to take on, knowing that somehow, I still make her proud by being the best that I can be in everything that I do.

Happy 25th birthday, Mom! With all your counting backwards over the years, we have now become the same age (hehe).

I love you.