Last week was my mom's 60th birthday. She got to celebrate it by being admitted to the hospital and having a hemo dialysis shunt put in to take over her peritoneal dialysis. It had not been functioning properly, causing her to be sick and her body to fill up with fluid.
I really wish I could have been there on Sunday when my sister threw a tea party for her in the little clearing in the woods behind the trailer where she lives. She arrived to be surprised by a handful of friends singing "Happy Birthday" to her and started crying. She sat down in the recliner which had been provided for her and rested while my sister read a few memories that had been written for her by friends and family from all over the country. She cried again when her friend said a prayer thanking God for her life. She laughed and reminisced at photos of her from different stages in her life.
As small and simple as it all was, she told me later that it was more than she deserved.
It almost makes me cry just writing those words because if you knew my mom, you would know she deserved it and ever so much more. Her humility in that statement is just a small part of her beauty.
I thought I would write 60 things about my mom to celebrate the 60 years of a beautiful life lived.
1.) Is intelligent.
2.) Is a fighter.
3.) Is content in whatever circumstance she's in.
4.) Made a life-changing decision about 35 years ago to follow Jesus wherever He leads her and has never looked back.
5.) Is not perfect and has never pretended to be.
6.) Is strong.
7.) Has sacrificed everything for her family.
8.) Is humble.
9.) Is a hard-worker.
10.)Does not gossip.
11.)Has NEVER interfered with my life or my family since I left home and got married.
13.)Home-schooled five kids through high-school graduation.
15.)Used to be a hippie.
16.)Is a trail-blazing, mold-breaking pioneer.
17.)Is named after her grandmother (Dorothea Brande) who was a well-known author.
18.)Was a preacher's wife for twenty-five years.
19.)Is a teacher.
20.)Writes beautiful commentaries all over her Bibles which I love to inherit when she has to get a new one.
21.)Has had one kidney transplant and is waiting for another one.
22.)NEVER complains about her health and actually tries to minimize it to people.
23.)Is not materialistic in any way (she is very hard to buy gifts for).
24.)Has been known to have complete break-downs while raising us kids, from which we have gathered many embarrassing stories and like to tell them every now and then.
25.)Tries to believe the best about people and forgives even when she has been mistreated and slighted.
26.)Opened her home to many troubled people over the years.
27.)Is a self-proclaimed bad cook (but I actually miss some of her dishes now that I'm gone).
28.)Is open-minded and willing to listen to others.
29.)Is the oldest of eight children.
30.)Hitch-hiked across Europe for two years.
31.)Loves to sing alto at the top of her lungs.
32.)Has been married to my father for 36 years.
33.)Used phrases such as "That's the way the cookie crumbles," "It's as fair as elephant's knees," and "Because I'm mean, old, ugly, and bald-headed" whenever we children complained about some perceived slight or unfairness in her dealings with us.
34.)Had one daughter, Gwendolyn Lareau Pratt, die when she was four days old.
35.)Grew up on a farm.
36.)Has ten living grandchildren and is a wonderful grandmother to all of them.
37.)Let us dress ourselves from the time we were little kids and never made us change no matter how mismatched and unsightly we looked.
38.)Plays the piano and taught us girls how to play.
39.)NEVER gave the answer, but made us look for it until we found it.
40.)Made my husband ask her permission every day before he could come pick me up from work while we were dating.
42.)Was always known as "Justin's daughter" growing up.
43.)Was always known as "Jessica's or Tanager's or Corinne's or Andrew's or Danielle's mom" when she grew up.
44.)Has never been vain a day in her life and is annoyed by primping and prissiness.
45.)Loves museums and took us to every free one within a 200 mile radius when we were growing up.
46.)Got up at 5:00 every morning to help me and my sister deliver newspapers for years.
47.)Is very frugal.
49.)Loves and cares for people no matter their status.
50.)Wants "Big House" by Audio Adrenaline played at her funeral.
51.)Can speak German, Spanish, French, and English.
52.)Plays the cello.
53.)Had a horse that she loved to ride when she was growing up.
54.)Was on the ski team in school.
55.)Learned to roller skate in her forties (and broke her arm doing so).
56.)Learned to knit an afghan during her first round of hemo dialysis 12 years ago.
57.)Made us buy everything we needed growing up and never gave us money; we always had to earn it.
58.)Brought us kids to the nursing homes to sing for the elderly people when we were little kids until we were older.
59.)Was my doula for the birth of my first daughter.
60.)Is my hero and inspiration.
Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you!