Despite the fact that September was when we had to go back to school, the month was one of my favorites as a kid. The same holds true today, except it is for different motives.

The original reason was not too difficult to figure out. The 13th of that month is my birthday, a wild card of annual celebrations that came in second only to Christmas for presents.

Quite a few years later, September gained even more significance in my life. I proposed to Jo Ann on Sept. 13 (a date I should be able to remember) and was married to her nearly a year later on Sept. 7.

The meaning of another September event has become increasingly important with each passing year - the birth of my mother, Mae Kozlowski, Sept. 4. My young siblings and I gave her a card and presents on her special day, but I was given a new perspective on it when I was a grown-up.

It was then that I learned the day I was born was almost the day my mother died. She lost so much blood that it was touch and go for a while. As much as I love and respect my dad, I cannot imagine what my life would have been without Mother and my two younger brothers and sister.

As my siblings and I grew older, we also grew more aware of all the sacrifices Mother made for us out of love. We were pleased to be able to throw her a birthday breakfast with many of our extended family in attendance for her 75th birthday.

Mother was still going strong when we celebrated her 80th birthday at a surprise luncheon that cousins from both sides of her family were able to attend. However, it wasn't many months later that we discovered she had a brain tumor. She marked her 81st birthday as a rehabilitation patient and her 82nd as a guest in a long-term care facility, dying two months later.

A tinge of that sadness remains five years later, but it is overshadowed by our gratitude to God for the gift of her life. The faith Mother and Dad instilled in us by the way they lived their lives gives us hope that one day we may again meet them in God's eternal love.

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God gives us love that is eternal.