On My Mother’s 100th Birthday

No, my mother Mary (Bovee) Cassen will not be celebrated in person today. She has been gone since December 5, 2000. But I think of her nevertheless, particularly now that my own young adult daughter is back home for a short time while she and her friends search for an apartment that suits the four of them.

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My mother and my daughter once upon a time.

What would my mother and I talk about now? Now that I am no longer a headstrong girl,  a snarky teenager, a so-sure-I’m-right-about-everything young adult? I think about these never-to-be-shared conversations often lately, know that we might have found some common ground we didn’t recognize earlier. I’m pretty sure we would share an opinion of our current president. And I’m pretty sure she would watch “This is Us” with me on Tuesday nights, be happy when my daughter Abby is around for dinner, enjoy seeing my son Shawn’s artwork, and laugh with my granddaughter Camille’s stories about first grade.

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My mom, my dad, and me. The youngest of my family, I was a bit of a surprise. I wonder what my mom’s first words were when she found out I was on the way?

My mom was a woman who was hard to convince. Once she formed an opinion about anything, that was that. Sometimes I suppose that served her well, kept her on what she thought was the right path. Examples might be her Roman Catholic faith, her marriage vows, her ability to toss out material goods when the closets became too full. She never liked my first husband, which eventually proved to be a prescient warning when his growing alcoholism forced me to toss him out of our home. She knew which buttons of mine to push so that I would stubbornly succeed at whatever she doubted was possible.

She saw farther ahead than I gave her credit for. And we both had wills of steel. Steel upon steel doesn’t always make the best sound, but put two pieces of steel together, and you might get a magnificently strong structure.

What I’ve really come to understand is that I miss her.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

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Laughter. This is what I want to remember.





  1. My own mother would be 103 by now so very similar in age. My mother was a pragmatist. She was interesting and she knew what made me tick better than I do myself. She loved Noel! I am glad we had our mothers you and I. You have your mother’s eye. I have mine’s laugh (and her figure). We each had their love — maybe a hard love at times, but real! and binding. That is something to celebrate.


  2. A nice tribute. I wish I had disagreed with my mother more growing up. I might have learned more about her. I think we were too much alike for much disagreement though. My mother’s birthday was Oct. 5th. She would have been 87.


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