Happy birthday Vera!

I will be celebrating my mother's 93rd birthday today, outside in the back garden, watching the weirdos walk down St. Laurent Boulevard. We're having a barbeque in her honour, steak with all the fixins, washed down by a couple glasses of French wine.

If she were alive today, she'd be out there with us in the freezing cold, smoking Rothmans, and drinking some sort of Labatt product. She loved to smoke. She loved to drink. She loved to laugh.

I miss her, and always will.

She left this Earth in September of 1992, and she was only 68 -- six years older than I am now. Man, she seemed like a dinosaur back then, and now that I look at myself, I wonder: is that what the young ones see when they look at me?

Really, I don't care anymore.

I am who I am. If you don't like me, or my wrinkles, or my cheap dye job, get stuffed. That's what she would say. She lived a tough life, raising three kids on her own, as I did, living on fumes, as I did for many years. In the end, she couldn't walk anymore, couldn't eat anymore and spent nearly a year in the hospital before she succumbed to an infection.

It was a sad day in September, and my life has never been the same. Being only 34 at the time, I found it hard to cope with being motherless, then ultimately, husbandless, but I had her spirit to guide me through.

What would Vera do?

I often asked myself that.

Today, in her honour, I went out and bought two pairs of shoes, and a baseball cap. I didn't need them, but God Damn It, I wanted them, and they were on sale.

I haven't bought two pairs of shoes at one time since I was in my twenties. 

I have some money, so why not? Can't take it with you.

As Vera taught me, you never know when your time is up, so eat, drink and get a little bit silly.

I also decided today that I'm finally going to give up on serious work. I'm tired of chasing contracts with soulless organizations that view me as a fossil without a French certificate. There is no work out there for people my age that doesn't involve running a cash register or slinging bananas at Walmart. I'm sick of it.

So I'm just going to relax, put my feet up, and enjoy the rest of the ride.

Smell the dirty diaper, as they say in the grandchild minding business. 

That's what Vera would have done if she'd had the chance.

Except the diaper part. She didn't like child minding.

She'd done her time. 

Not me. 

I'm so happy that I can still toss around my granddaughters. Vera couldn't do that. The back breaking factory work she endured for so many years took a toll on her spine and she could barely get around at my age. She couldn't even walk the length of the Pen Centre. 

I will try to live a healthy and active lifestyle as long as I can. I'm seeing my doctor, getting tests, and smearing my own poo on a stick. I'm also going to the dentist to make sure my teeth aren't falling out, so I don't have to join the Polident crowd. .

I realize that I've spent too many years on the lam, and now it's time to turn myself in, peacefully, rather than going out in a blaze of glory like many of my friends have done. There's no medal for dead, not even a bronze, just a spray of flowers, and a spread of stale sandwiches with too many pickles. 

I want to be around to see how it all turns out.

Though if my number does come up, I'll be thinking of Vera, a smoke in one hand, a Labatt Blue in the other, smiling that million dollar smile.

So please, raise a glass to Vera Crown Simpson, a legend and a true star.

And here's to Scott, who'll help me through it all.


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