Confession: I've been keeping a little secret for the last 12 months.
Mom when she was my age. The woman doesn't age...
I've been planning a surprise party for my sweet sweet madre's 60th Birthday.
With Uncle Danny (I think?)
My mother may look pretty normal, and perhaps she would be- if normal included being impossibly lovely, unassumingly sweet, creative and darling.
One of many reasons she's extraordinary?
My mother raised the craziest kids in the world: me and my siblings.
The rest of the clan (except me-- I was in her tummy though...)
Mom taking a moment to daydream while entertaining ephraim and keeping an eye on me...
lots of babysitting along the way (ephraim is the blond chub in the middle)
My mother is an adventurer. An explorer. She'd take sleeping under the stars over any fancy resort. She's stunning. And happier wearing sweats in the back yard while gardening than she'd ever be wearing expensive jewelry, driving luxury cars, or wearing designer labels.
I think she honestly may be the least superficial individual on the face of the planet.
Things of value include service, time spent outdoors, and teaching children.
The thing most valuable to her: time spent with family.
Well. It just so happens, that getting our entire immediate family together is very difficult to arrange. Even during Thanksgiving and Christmas, getting everyone under one roof is a little iffy.
This is why, about a year ago, I began calling my siblings and asking them to mark off the weekend of mom's birthday this june. Most of the kids in my family (including me and gid) didn't even know where we'd be in a year, so the chances of us all getting together in the same town on the same weekend seemed pretty bleak.
So, you can imagine my excitement when everyone's schedules magically seemed to come together for this one weekend in june. Seriously, there must've been angels working hard to make sure that all five kids plus spouses/girlfriends were able to make it (plus one aunt, a grandma, two grandbabies and a crazy busy hubby-- my dad).
A few months before, I began sending weekly emails out with updates and instructions. We decided to give the weekend event a name: Camp Rose. You see, my mother's name is Rosemary. And she loves to go camping. So even though I knew I couldn't take us camping, I thought I could bring the camp to our little texas home.
I love that Mom actually thought her birthday would be a pretty quiet weekend initially.
Sweet Aunt Patti flew to Texas amidst business trips and family time to be there for camp rose.
It was when mom decided to run to the store with Grandma (to pick up a few toys for the grandkids) that the magic really began to happen. Dad, Gid, me, Melody, Andy and mimi were already home. Sam, Nicki, and their sweet boy gabe came over, followed by Josh and Melissa. Ephraim and Jeanne parked their car a block away so mom wouldn't suspect anything. My AUNT flew into town. We wrote out the words S-U-R-P-R-I-S-E on paper and each held a letter.
And you know what when my mom got home-
she was really really really happy.
And seeing that smile-
is worth any 14 hour drive in my book.
I kept finding mom in corners wiping her red nose,
and hearing her giggle to herself and say, "I'm just so happy".
(Thank you to Aunt Julie and Uncle Steve for this DELICIOUS edible arrangement)
One of the last things we did as a family was each share cherished memories of mom.
Even I was blown away hearing the way my siblings told of what an impact my mother's grace, patience, and poise affected who they are today.
Even my usually rough around the edges and incredibly sarcastic brothers.
I couldn't believe the tenderness that was in their memories.
My aunt made us all laugh by telling stories of my mom when she was a kid.
(Not much has changed, eh?)
My grandmother gave sweet memories of my mother as a baby.
4 generations of lovely ladies
My father (who gave twice the requested amount of memories)
declared his adoration and love for the woman of his dreams.
Even the grandkids participated.
There's no amount of diamonds or jewelry that would have meant as much to Mom as hearing these stories.
Oh. And there was a party.
A huge party that we had over 50 people show up to.
When I told mom we'd be having guests over to celebrate her birthday the first thing she said to me was, "Oh Alyssa, no one is going to come." Remember how I said she was unassuming?
People came all right. Lots.
We had guests late into the evening still hanging around so they could get a chance to tell mom how much they love and appreciate her.
She was giggly all evening, wiping her eyes every now and then.
(Certainly when we lit sparklers and sang her happy birthday.)
What an evening to remember.
And one last surprise: I began asking close friends and family if they'd be willing to write mom a letter of thanks and appreciation. My goal was to give her 60 letters for her 60th birthday. I had over 80 responses.
To all my sweet loved ones who helped me create these lasting memories for a truly remarkable woman: I thank you with all of my heart. This was a weekend she won't forget anytime soon.
Happy Birthday to the woman who has inspired me more than I can say.