My Aunt Betty – who is not a blood relative, but was my Mother’s best friend – emailed me tonight for my birthday (which is tomorrow, but she lives in Brussels, where I’m already older):
My dearest niece,
I sincerely hope you have a Happy Birthday, full of surprises and joys. May all your wishes come true.
I enclose an excerpt from one of the letters your Mother wrote me; I hope you like it and that you’re happy to read it.
Hugs and kisses,
Then, there it was. As familiar as looking at myself in the mirror: her handwriting.
“On the 27th of July at 7:27 in the evening, your niece was born. Her name is Diana; she weighed 8 pounds, 5 ounces, and was 20 inches long. It’s not because she is my daughter but she is just precious. She is light-skinned, has greenish-gray eyes, she looks like a little doll. When I have photos I’ll send you some.
I had a really great labor. I woke up at 4:45AM, with contractions every 25 minutes, really mild ones. I checked into the hospital at 2PM when they were 5 minutes apart but still gentle; at 4PM they were 2 minutes apart and stronger until the time of the birth. I am so happy, you have no idea. I was even brave enough to watch the entire labor in some mirrors set up in the delivery room. It’s something I’ll never be able to erase from my mind, a marvelous experience. I am the happiest woman in the world.”
I’m stunned at how long Betty hung on to this piece of paper. What an incredibly sweet gesture.