Dear Mommy,

Thanks so much for all you have given me over the years – believe me, I know it hasn't been easy. And, on this the day of my birth, I think you should get some thanks from your loving son. On this magical day twenty-two years ago you gave me life and I couldn't be more grateful.

It was tough for you from the get go. I know Dad was a big guy, but I'm sure you weren't expecting me to be a 72 Lb baby. And I'm sure it didn't help that I came out sideways either! Whoops! I'm sorry you needed that blood transfusion after having me but think of it this way, you'd have died without it and you'd never get to see me grow up. Whenever I look at the scar on my hip from where they cut away my conjoined twin, I thank you for choosing me to receive the pancreas and live. I know that was a tough choice for you and I hope I've done you proud.

I know that I'm in some way responsible for Dad leaving you and it's something I've always felt bad about. I guess he just couldn't understand that women need some time to lose weight after having a baby and that it would be impossible for you to "stop looking like a big fat pig" two weeks after you had me. But I had a good childhood even without a father. Plus, from what you told me about Dad, getting "whacked around by the beatin' stick" doesn't sound like a good way to discipline a child.

I was quite a handful when I was growing up, wasn't I? Between the trailer fire and the India-ink tattoos I used to give you when you fell asleep, I sure got into some mischief. I'm sorry you had to spend your black-market kidney transplant money on bail for me, but I really didn't light that lady's dog on fire" I don't care what the forensic detectives said. I'm sorry for all the trouble I got into back then but know that I never once stopped loving you" even when I cut the brake lines on your boyfriend's Buick Skylark.

But there won't be any more trouble from me now. I'm a man now – twenty-two years-old, sober for almost three weeks and only five months left on my parole. Mom, you did a great job raising me and this day, though it is meant to be mine, really belongs to you. You were the one that put in the long hours teaching me to read last year. You were the one who was always there when I needed an alibi. You were the only one who believed me when the cops came to ask about that pipe bomb someone planted in school. Even though it's my birthday, it's you, Mom, who deserves the good wishes. I love you and I'll make sure to call just as soon as I'm allowed to use public communications systems again.

Love, your birthday boy, Streeter