Happy Birthday Mom

So, 90 years ago on this very day in the city of Philadelphia my mom arrived on the planet. Sadly, she left the planet 29 years ago on almost the same calendar day.

Which implies that I am now the same age my mom was when she died. She was an amazing lady which is something everyone is required to say about their mom. She raised four boys to become men, and survived challenges and obstacles that would have defeated many people. I like to think that she just ran out of gas after surviving adversity. Everyone knew then she was amazing.

Almost 30 years later, I am approximately at the same place having raised five children to become young adults. I would argue that my family members have faced more adversity than I did directly, but the indirect consequences have been something I’ve needed to navigate.

At the same time however, I now realize that my mom was way more than amazing. With an incredible combination of intellect, humor, and savvy, she set a foundation for me to live a life where I get to work with a community of scholars and budding professionals. Heck, I even get to bring the guitar that she gave me when I was 20 years old to work.

That guitar saw me through years of schooling, and my brief but wonderful career as a semi-professional musician. To this day that guitar is part of my ongoing music therapy.

During this pandemic, I have offered to share this gift of music therapy online, with a few takers. Indirectly but substantially, all of this starts with the lady whose birthday is today.

In 1990, for her 60th birthday, my brothers and I did two creative things that I remember to this day. The first was we hid 60 bottles of Miller beer around her apartment. She enjoyed stumbling upon these bottles throughout the last year of her life and calling us, letting us know that she discovered another bottle in a drawer, cabinet, or under the sink in the bathroom.

The second creative gift I spearheaded. I took that beautiful Sigma guitar and wrote a song to the best of my ability captured the essence of my mom. She always reminded us that she was Czech (and not Czechoslovakian), where she learned to be thrifty, strategic, yet loving.

So Happy Birthday, Mo Dougherty, and save a spot for me and your son Patrick at the “kitchen table” as we watch you argue and laugh with Aunt Pat, Tim, and Mike.

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