Back in July of 2006, my sister and I threw a surprise birthday party in honor of our mother’s 80th birthday. Though Mom’s birthday is actually August 29, we chose a date a month early … hoping she’d never guess what we’d planned. (I must quickly acknowledge my minimal role in organizing the event; my sister is a masterful party planner … I am not!)
It was a picturesque setting for a Saturday afternoon luncheon celebration. We were outdoors in historic Old St. Charles at a small restaurant with a quaint (but extended) cobblestone patio. (Here’s the website; see for yourself what a cute place it is!) The skies were overcast and it was muggy, but all the relatives shared the excitement and good wishes for Mom’s special day.
Halfway through lunch, the previously overcast skies opened up, dumping a torrential rain onto the overcrowded patio. Our lively group (about 40 of us) scrambled for cover! The inside dining room was hardly large enough, but we squeezed in tightly, and though thoroughly drenched, not willing to let the weather put a damper on our celebration.
That celebration toasted a remarkable woman (see my previous posts — here and here — about her). She’s always been a go-getter. Following Hurricane Katrina (in 2005), Mom traveled with a group from her church down to Louisiana to help in the cleanup. She’d never be satisfied to sit on the sidelines in a cushy spot and serve coffee; characteristic of her can-do spirit, she pulled on some well-worn garden gloves and helped haul debris.
Five years have gone by since our gathering at Magpie’s and today is Mom’s 85th birthday. Unfortunately, other responsibilities prevent me from being with her today. I wrote the poem below for her 80th; though she’s past the “cusp of 80,” the rest of the poem still applies. Across the miles that separate us, I celebrate her life and her enduring impact on mine.MOTHER OF MINE She’s five feet two, white hair, brown eyes This woman whom I idolize. She’s “Mama” to her children And “Ruthie” to her friends — A spunky dame not prone to fossilize. A soldier’s daughter and World War bride, (She’s lived alone since Daddy died) She bore six offspring, buried one, Strived daily on the tasks undone And stayed aboard Life’s death-defying ride. She’s energetic, sharp of mind Yet Macular D. now robs her blind. A stylish lady on the cusp of eighty, She’s braved both trivial and weighty, Embodying the best of humankind.