My mother turned 80 years old last week. All five of us kids had a big party for her and she was surrounded by so many family members and friends that love her. She is easy to love. Her smile is welcoming and comforting. Her spirit is gentle and kind. She will make you feel well cared for with her conversation and concern for you, over a warm cup of tea. I’m her daughter, but she shares this gift with everyone. I’m not the least bit jealous.
I was fortunate to be the collector of the RSVP’s for the party, because whether our guests were coming, or unable to make it, everyone felt the need to tell me what a wonderful person she is and that they would love to celebrate with us. I loved hearing those things about my mother. It brought back people to me from my past that I hadn’t seen or heard from in such a long while. They sent cards and photographs in droves. Family traveled from Florida, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio to be here. My mother is the best at keeping in touch with her friends and family. She is a gifted letter writer and I’m certain that everyone who signed the guest book will get a personal, beautifully handwritten and heartfelt thank you note.
I enjoyed the preparations for this party. My brothers and sisters and I were in frequent communication and we all had recollections of past memories coming back into the present. My sister Kim amazingly remembers everything in great detail and wanted to talk about all things funny. It made me happy that she keeps all of these stories tucked away in her brain, because she makes us laugh. Kathy is the oldest and is a talented cake decorator. She cares about all of us and lavishes over all of the details, making everything beautiful. She would do anything for anyone and loves when we are all together. I consider my sister-in-law, Missie, to be more like a sister. She and my younger brother Larry were high school sweethearts, so she has been part of our family for a long time. She has blonde hair like the rest of us girls and fits right in to the picture. She is great at putting together a spread and I was thankful to have her help! She lost her own mother when she was in her twenties and my mom has compassionately cared for her, so I know she was just as eager to honor her on her birthday. My brothers Butch and Larry are quiet, and mostly let the girls do the planning, but I admire the way they love our mom. They, along with my husband Eddie, and brother-in-law John, were all helpful the day of the party, carrying TONS of food and decorations, setting up tables, figuring out the sound system and obediently doing whatever orders us girls barked at them!
My mother has 19 grandchildren and 13 great-grands! The grandchildren (led by Allison and Andrew) put together a precious, creative gift for my mom, whom they affectionately call “Nana.” It is a large, framed crossword puzzle with all of their names intersecting to form the grid. The corresponding clues are how you figure out the answers for each grandchild! What fun they had coming up with the clues! Andrew, my nephew, also put together a slideshow of 80 years of photographs to run during the party. My daughter, Charlotte sang a beautiful song to my mother titled, “Love Will Be Our Home.”
I know my dad was proud to honor her as well. She is a faithful and loving wife. They have been the best example of love through everything life throws at you. They’re an adorably cute couple!
I had planned to say a few words about my mother the day of her party. Both of my sisters did, but honestly, I couldn’t utter a sound. I definitely would have ended up in a puddle of tears. I am so grateful and blessed to have her as my mom. She has been with me through everything; teaching me as a child about God and laying the foundation for the person I would become. I share her love of creativity, entertaining, cooking, sewing, crafting and compassion for others. We love to laugh together. Even my teenage years weren’t that bad. Although I’m certain I did a lot of eye-rolling, and possibly closing my bedroom door firmly. (My bedroom door wouldn’t slam! There was some sort of invisible vacuum preventing it! As hard as I tried, it just whooshed and stopped right before impact. Do you know how frustrating that was for a teenage girl?) I married young and I was in constant communication with her about life, marriage, cooking and motherhood. When my daughter became ill, she never left my side. She helped me physically, emotionally and spiritually and I couldn’t have done any of it without her help. When my marriage ended, she supported me again in all of those ways. When I made decisions she didn’t approve of, I knew how she felt, but she never stopped loving me. She let go of me when she knew I needed to spread my wings, but she was, and always has been, there when I needed her.
She’s a good mom, the best a girl could hope to have. When I think of my mom, I see a beautiful and graceful pillar of strength, fueled by faith. A quiet, introspective person who thinks before she speaks. Sometimes, she never speaks at all; she doesn’t feel the need to. She lives out the adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Maybe I get my “pondering heart” from her. As Mary, the mother of Jesus observed and pondered things in her heart, so does my mother; knowing that God has a plan for whatever happens in our lives. When she does choose to speak, it is full of wisdom; wisdom that only 80 years of living a life of faith can give you. There’s not much she hasn’t seen. There’s not much that she hasn’t experienced, but through it all she chooses to love, and love us well.
Happy 80th birthday to my beautiful mother! Not only are you beautiful on the outside, but most importantly on the inside. Your smile even makes your eyes sparkle and is a constant comfort to me. I am honored to call you my mother and am blessed beyond measure to have you in my life. I love you so much!