Today my beautiful and beautifully-spirited mother turns 70 years young. She is an inspiration for me for so many things:  how to be a caring human being, a strong and resilient woman, a steadfast and fun parent, a loyal friend, a contributing member of the community. She is a light.


My mother floats on her back in the ocean,
arms outstretched, embracing the wide sky.
She has a knack for being fully present.
I watch her and wonder what genes

have I inherited from her, what values?
Hopefully bits of her deep capacity for joy,
flexibility amidst change, gratitude for the little
and big things, childlike enthusiasm, 
a bountiful heart, that enviable 
attitude. She has a rare ability to laugh 
at herself and patience honed from thirty years
teaching plus raising four kids. She values thrift
with a creative spin, recycling gifts for others,
offering to eat the left-over fruit garnish off
someone else’s drink to waste nothing
beautiful. She holds no bitterness.

She is the grandparent who gets
down on the floor to play, the one
who rides a bike all over town,
tries paddleboarding because, why not?
she’s never done it, laughing as she falls
into the water. She’ll kick off her shoes
and lie down in a patch of grass
to luxuriate in sunbeams. She sings in her
church choir, enjoys helping others,
plays a spirited game of cribbage.
All this surely the definition
of an enlightened being.

Nearby my fifteen–month-old daughter,
another bodhisattva, naps after a busy morning
tottering, chasing dogs and her brother,
digging in the sand, splashing in the sea.
For now, she too has a gift for living
fully in the present. I look at her, wonderingly.
What will she learn from her grandmother?
What will she learn from me?

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