This Monday, my sweet Mom had a birthday. This year we are not only celebrating her marvelous sixty years of life on planet earth, but also five years of being cancer-free! Praise God for life, new life, and life on the other side of cancer! My dad threw my mom the loveliest party, with forty of their closest family and friends. My grandma, my aunt Cheryl and I all helped with a few extra details and the decor. The color scheme was pink (for breast cancer) and brown. The kids and I flew up Saturday morning in order to attend the festivities and spend a few extra days loving on my mom.
Some scenes from the party...
My grandma picked out 25 of her most favorite photos of my mom growing up, everything from baby photos to awkward school photos to dates with my dad, wedding photos, and early motherhood shots. My aunt put them all together on cute pink paper, attached to skewers, which we placed in the center of pink flower arrangements. I borrowed the "vases" (pint & quart mason jars) from friends and spruced them up with a little brown and pink grosgrain ribbon. My dad ordered a beautiful, delicious chocolate cake with raspberry filling. Yum.
My kids were especially excited to spend some time with their cousins. At the restaurant, there was an extra, empty room adjacent to our dining spot where the kids were able to run around, dance, twirl, pretend, etc., long into the evening. It worked out perfectly!
Maddie with her oldest cousin Grace:
Lizzie, Elijah & Sam:
We were so blessed to have all our favorite people gathered in one room to celebrate my mom. It was like a big family reunion, and so great for me to catch up with people I love who've been in my life, praying for me & supporting my family since we were babies. Nearly everyone we invited was able to make it, though we did miss a few cousins and sports families who had late games. :)
My younger brother Joe and family friend Rich:
A great moment where my Grandma (seated) was telling my mom (standing) a story about the night she was born:
Apparently my grandpa was a little nervous/excited on his way to the hospital on the night my mom was born, because partway there, with my grandma in heavy labor beside him, he slammed on the brakes, nearly sending her through the windshield. Once they recovered, he apologized and said sheepishly, "Oops. I meant to turn on the windshield wipers."
My mom and her mom:
My older brother Ben & our sweet Dad:
Lots of love for Grammy!
After a delicious meal, and some amazing service (seriously, a super job by our neighbor and friend's restaurant), we had a time of toasting and sharing stories. I was so completely touched by everyone's kind words about my mom. I had something prepared to say, but there were literally SO MANY stories that I chose to listen instead. My folks have a longstanding, amazing reputation among their friends, church & community, and for good reason. They are outstanding people.
Mom, if I had shared that night, I would have said:
This morning, as I was vacuuming, I was thinking about this baby in my belly, a new little boy to love, and how my own family would be much like that I was raised in. One sister & two brothers. Though I pined for a sister when I was younger, I wouldn't have changed anything. I believe that being the only two females in the house gave you and me an incredibly close, meaningful relationship. In that moment, I was so excited for what this meant for Maddie & I. I hope and expect that we will have a relationship like the one I share with you. I can only pray that she respects me as much as I respect you!
Becoming a mom has given me such a love and respect for not only who you are, but all you did for us. In moments where I'm not sure what to do, I think of you and how you would handle the situation. I rely on fuzzy memories and the solid foundation that you established with your constant, gentle, encouraging instruction.
As a grandma, I marvel at how you are able to love with such grace and tenderness, while still maintaining respect and utilizing every moment to teach. You are still the most gifted teacher I've ever experienced in action and you continue to inspire me to love my kids and teach them the way they should go.
Thank you for teaching me what it means to be a follower of Christ, one who is selfless and humble, content to serve without recognition and love without expectation of reciprocation. You and Dad are the best parents I could ask for, and have established for me and my brothers a lasting legacy of love, servanthood, grace, instruction and compassion. I am so grateful for you in my life, I am so grateful that God gave me you as a mom, and I am SO grateful that you are cancer-free and enjoying life to the fullest! Happy Birthday to a strong, courageous, encouraging, loving friend and mom!!