To Mom on Your 90th Birthday

Mom on Christmas Eve, 2014. Photo by Callen Harty.

Mom on Christmas Eve, 2014. Photo by Callen Harty.

You were born in 1925. February 19, 1925 and you came into this world as the youngest of nine children. And now, it is 2015. It is nine decades later. It is ninety years later and you are still smiling and full of love.

You lived through the Great Depression, through World War II, Korea, the Cold War, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan. And still you smile and still you love.

You have outlived two husbands, one of your children, all of your brothers and sisters, your friends. Still you are grateful for what you have. Still you laugh. Still you love.

If you are ninety then I am no longer a child. You no longer tuck me in at night or hold me in your arms in a rocking chair while I sit on your lap. You no longer comfort me when I am sick or scold me when I do something wrong. But you still love me and you will always be my mother.

You taught me right from wrong. You gave me a moral compass. You passed on compassion, empathy, generosity, and a sense of justice. You gave me laughter and you gave me love. You filled my life with love.

At ninety you are still my mother. That will never go away. Everything else might fade, but the love of a mother for a child does not. It cannot. But I want you to know that it goes both ways. You still make me smile and I still love you for all that you have been and all that you are.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you more than you can know.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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2 Responses to To Mom on Your 90th Birthday

  1. Bob & Noreen Gile says:

    What A Tribute To Your Mom!
    Well written.

  2. Chris McDonough says:

    Beautiful as always Callen.

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