We are here to celebrate 80 birthdays and 59 anniversaries, 55 years of mothering, 28 years of grandmothering, and six months of great-grandmothering. These markings are the raw numbers of old age, but they don’t reflect the memories, stories, lessons and wisdom that come to us in snippets or snapshots or the fullness of a life lived with intensity and insight. That my mother has taken pen to paper—or fingers to keyboard—to share these is a gift to us and a bequest to future generations.
Each of us has entered my mother’s book in a different chapter—some long ago, some more recently—but we are, nevertheless, all part of a story that began in rural North Carolina and moved across the country to the suburbs of St. Louis. The end is not yet written, so we will refrain from speculation, but suffice it to say that we will be eagerly awaiting the sequel at her 90th birthday celebration. But as we reflect today upon the time we have been give with our mother, grandmother, confidant and friend, however long or short, we are reminded that our connections with one another constitute our greatest blessing and though we choose to celebrate the length of our lives, it is their essence that is more worthy of recognition. And so it is true here.
To that end, let us make a toast to times shared, advice given and sought, wisdom imparted, stories remembered and, of course, the joy of reading. Happy Birthday, Mom, and may there be many more chapters to come.