Happy Birthday, Mom

I think it’s safe to say that this is a weird time for everyone. While things are starting to show signs of returning to normal in some parts of the world, there’s still a significant way to go. However, there are some days that just feel more weird than other. Today is one of those days for me.

Today would have been another year of my Mom celebrating her “27th birthday”. Unfortunately, this will be the fourth year that we won’t be able to celebrate it with her. We lost my mom in March of 2016.

The past few years, spring has always been a weird time for me. There are a lot of milestones that come up from March to June. My mom passed in March, Mother’s Day and my birthday are in May, and then her birthday is on June 1st. However, this year has been especially weird.

I went back and forth on whether or not to write this article, but here we go.

A little about my Mom

As an only child, we always had a close bond. True to the only child stereotype, she spoiled me and had trouble telling me no. It was always my dad’s job to do that. Anytime I thought I was in trouble, I would go to my mom first. No matter how old I was, I was always her “baby”.

Aside from our family, there were two things she loved more than anything else: the beach and gardening. Despite the short summers in Buffalo, she’d spend just about every weekend in her garden or floating in the pool (weather permitting). It was her happy place. She had so many other interests and talents too, but when I picture her, that’s where she’s at her happiest.

Even under normal circumstances, today is a weird day for me. However, with everything going on, it becomes even weirder. Typically, I like to try to spend some time alone near the water or a garden on my mom’s birthday. I’ll talk to her, tell her I miss her, and let her know all the things that have been going on in my life. However, that was more challenging than usual this year. While things are relaxing in the UK, it’s still incredibly difficult for me to get to the water or find a private garden where I live. ended up having to settle for a small pond nearby.

My mom made me who I am today

I know the cliche gets used all the time, but my parents really did make me who I am today.  She always encouraged me to be who I am and really enjoyed watching me be me. She was always going to be proud of me no matter what I did. No matter how small or insignificant the achievement.

While I get my sense of humor from my dad, I get the willingness to share it and express it from my mom. If you see a bad joke, a cheesy pun, or a goofy reference in an article, you can thank both of them for that.

How travel ties into this

Before Mom got sick, I’d planned to take my first trip back to Europe since my teens. When she became sick, I knew it wasn’t the best idea to plan a major international vacation There were more important things to worry about. After she passed, my dad made me promise to still make it to Europe the next summer.

Sure enough, in May 2017, I’d made it to Europe. We spent my first Mother’s Day without her on a small Greek island called Paros. That evening, we experienced the most beautiful orange sunset we’d ever seen. (Orange was my mom’s favorite color – I went to Clemson, so of course, she went all out and loved everything orange). I couldn’t help but shed a tear knowing that was her way of saying hi and letting us know that everything was all right. To this day, I’m still not sure I’ve ever seen a sunset as orange and beautiful.

While she’d traveled to Mexico and the Caribbean, Mom had never been to Europe. When we moved to London, I know she would have been sad that I’d be so far away. I also know that she would have been the first person to visit and so excited to do so. It makes me sad that that never had the chance to happen. Knowing what I know about points and miles now, I would have loved to help her see the world and experience it with her. And maybe treat her to a little pampering along the way…

Don’t take opportunities for granted

When it comes to travel, points, and miles, we can tend to get lost in things like maximizing redemption values instead of maximizing the experience. Yes, we all want great value, but part of what makes points so great is getting to experience things you’d never get to experience otherwise. Whether you’re flying first class on your honeymoon, taking a parent to a destination they never thought they’d get to see, or catching a flight home for the holidays that you couldn’t afford otherwise, it’s all worth it.

No one knows what tomorrow holds and the past few months have only emphasized that. I’d trade any amount of points to be stuck in a middle seat next to my mom today on a flight to nowhere, but I can’t. We never know how much time we have with our loved ones, so cherish every opportunity that you get to spend time with them.

My mom’s favorite picture. Of course, there were planes involved.

I’m sure she’d be embarrassed that I’m sharing this, but she’d still read it and be proud anyway. I really just want to share what a special person she was to me. If you have someone like that in your life, be sure to give them a big hug when we can finally do that again. I know I would.

Happy “27th birthday”, Mom. Love, Stephen.

Author: Stephen Hoechst

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  1. That was beautiful, Stephan. You have a good heart, it’s obvious . I enjoyed hearing about your mother. Hang onto those memories…and when you travel, know that she is right there with you. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Thank you for your kind words.

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      • Hi Stephan! Jeri M sent me this via your dad. I just want you to know how much reading this meant to me. I was friends with mom since we were 8 years old. I miss her so much. She’s in my thoughts and prayers always. I know my “chica” would be so proud of her amazing son and I want you to know that. She is with you in every orange sunset and everywhere life takes you! Love to you and dad and the family!

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        • Thanks, Patti! So good to hear from you. She’s with all of us, even rolling her eyes on occasion I’m sure 🙂 Give your family our love as well.

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    • Stephen. That was awesome.

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      • Thanks, Paul. Hope you and Christopher are doing well. Stay safe.

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  2. Beautiful! She is with you every day.

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  3. What a beautiful tribute to your Mom. I miss her every day. Every year on her birthday I spend time in my “Jill” garden. Some of the plants she gave me and some are planted in her memory.
    She was always so proud of you in everything you did. I can just see her smiling down on you now. I am glad you see her in beautiful sunsets. I see her in butterflies. She surrounds all of her loved ones in beauty and laughter.
    Stay well. Love to you and your Dad.

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    • Thank you, Jeri. It means so much to hear that from you. It makes me smile to know that she is still such a big part of your life. I’m sure she’d be giving us a hard time for fawning over her so much, but too bad 🙂 Stay safe and much love to you and yours as well.

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  4. Stephen,
    Thank you for sharing your life, including your mom. I feel as if I know her. My mom has passed over several years now but I was able to do some First Class flights for her. Continue your good writing and don’t worry about telling of your mom from time to time.

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