Wednesday, July 7, 2010


My mom turns 80 years old today. I mentioned here last week that in my head my mom is about 40. I can see her so clearly...she is standing in front of her kitchen window and she looks about 40...why is that? We're having a little family party this weekend which is what she wanted. She also wanted chocolate cake and rest assured there will be chocolate cake.

So... a funny, the person who always has so many words in her head she has to spill a few out here every day...well, I'm having a hard time writing this post. What do you say about your mother? She's mom...she just is. Sometimes we hear a person say 'I carry them in my heart' and that's exactly how I feel.

My mom was born in Arkansas and was raised in New Mexico but she has spent more than half of her life in NJ. I'm sure she sometimes wonders how that happened. She married a Marine which meant moving a lot, as in every year or two for many years. Oh and their four charming children had to be moved too. And there was a year or three where she was completely on her own with those four charming children while said Marine was in Okinawa and Vietnam and other such places half a world away. My mom was always capable...I don't know if she whined or ever felt sorry for herself but I do know that life happened for us kids. She made sure of that.

My mom is an excellent baker and cook. She is famous for her Christmas cookies, both the quality and the quantity. She makes the world's best enchiladas which is what hubs has requested on every single visit since he first sampled them 20 something years ago. She usually obliges by making them and he always obliges by eating way way way too many.

My mom has always been artistic but would probably say she is not. Don't believe her. Her dad was a painter and she definitely got the creativity gene. She majored in art and then Spanish in college. She learned to sew one year while my dad was overseas. She did ceramics for a while. My sister and I loved to play with paper dolls when we were young and we always wanted my mom to cut them out because she never accidentally cut off a tab or a sleeve.
In recent years she has turned her artistic talents to scrapbooking and she is one of those annoying types who can just look at a photo and picture the scrapbook page. She has a bright green thumb and need only look at a plant for it to grow and bloom. She has read a lot of books in her lifetime and she passed on her love of books to all of her children. Thanks Mom!

My mom is very stylish. She loves to shop and she always looks nice. She has beautiful skin which makes her look much younger than her 80 years. I fear I should have listened to that 'no sun' thing she was always going on and on about.

My mom loves the Lord with all her heart and I know she has prayed for her children and now her grandchildren all of our lives. And oh how she loves her grandchildren, three grown up young ladies and a four year old dynamo. My girls liked nothing better than going to mema's house and getting into her dress up clothes, the costume jewelry, the shawl, and especially the Hawaiian mu mu. And I can still see a 4 year old daughter1 parading down the center hall steps into the crowd after my dad's funeral. She was dressed in my mom's slip with the built in bra... a little bit of laughter in a day filled with tears.

My mom has an accidental tradition of buying a few Christmas presents early and hiding them in case someone breaks into her house. When Christmas rolls around she can't remember where she hid them and pretty much every family member at some point thru the years has had a gift turn up the following July or August. We like to tease her about that. We also like to tease her about her tendency to go to 'worse case scenario' in any given situation...there is a certain story that gets told and re-told in our family about the time my brother had been in Philadelphia and arrived home late. My mom saw a spot on the carpet and thought it was blood. She knocked on his door and he didn't answer and she managed to convince my dad to take his bedroom door off the hinges just sure he was lying in there close to death. As it turns out he was listening to music with his headphones on and the look on his face when the door came off was priceless. We have lots of stories like that.

Do you ever feel like you have a hundred little snapshots in your head? Moments that are frozen in time but are still crystal clear? We used to say my mom was the fastest walker we knew. Seriously. I can see my sister and I as little girls run/walking always a few steps behind her. I see her dressed up and getting in the car to go to church. I see her working a crossword puzzle at the kitchen table. I see her carrying laundry up the stairs. I see her playing bridge in the living room or a round of dominoes at the dining room table. I see her walking in the door from the library with an armload of books. I see our living room on Christmas morning overflowing with so many beautifully wrapped packages and a fire in the fireplace... my mom sitting in front because it has always been her spot on Christmas morning. I see her stirring something on the stove. I see her sitting on the edge of my canopy bed brushing my long tangled hair listening to all my tween age worries.

Sometimes as parents we want to be perfect. We look back at raising our children and we think of all the things we would do differently...words we would un-speak, moments we'd like to relive. I'm sure my mother has those feelings too. But as the 'kid' looking back on my childhood I see the sunny moments and I feel the height and breadth and depth of my mothers love.

A love that seeps into my being as only a mother's love can.
And I carry that love in my heart.

Happy Birthday today to my sweet mom...I love you!


  1. Happy Birthday to your forever 40 mom!

  2. Wow, that's one young looking 80 year old :-) This post was a beautiful tribute to your mom, she sounds like the best mom in the world.
    My mom is 85 in September, I wish I could back to England to celebrate with her. I was there for her 80th :)
    have a super day Joyce.

  3. Happy Birthday to Joyce's Mom! What a nice tribute and I only hope to look that good at 80!

  4. Happy Birthday to your Mom. I am sure she will enjoy this post and reading all your wonderful memories and thoughts of her!

  5. Happy Birthday to your Mom! She sure is a beautiful lady! What a nice tribute you wrote about your Mom!


  6. This is really sweet. She doesn't look a day past 70! :)
    Happy Birthday to her!

  7. Lovely Joyce. I hope your Mom has a beautiful birthday!

  8. This post should be prefaced with "TISSUE ALERT!" Lovely testimony to the legacy of your mom. Happy Birthday to her today. Blessings, SusanD

  9. Your mom certainly does not look 80! I pray you guys have an awesome celebration this weekend.

  10. Wow great post and your mom looks great, sure looks young to be 80, hugs my friend.

  11. What a great tribute to your mom. She certainly doesn't look 80. I'm convinced that bridge and crossword puzzles can keep you young. They do for my mother.

    Didn't know that you had Arkansas ties. Where was your mother born?

  12. Joyce,

    Please pass along my birthday blessings to your very young mom! She truly has past along so many life lessons and legacy to your family. I loved this tribute and think you made her proud.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  13. Joyce, what a wonderful tribute to your sweet Mom! She does look much younger than 80! What great stories you told about your Mom. I do the same thing with Christmas presents. I hide them and then don't remember where I put them. Glad your family will be together this weekend to celebrate your precious Mom. I know you all will have a wonderful time. Enjoy! Happy Birthday to your Mom! Love & blessings from NC!

  14. So beautifully written -- she's a beautiful lady with a lovely daughter.


  15. What a beautiful post! Happy Birthday to your mom!

  16. What a beautiful tribute to your mother, Joyce. Can your mom adopt me? ;) I can only hope that my girls can speak so positive of me when they are grown. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

  17. I hope you all have a wonderful time together this weekend celebrating her. I feel so fortunate to still have my mother with me (she's 76) and to truly enjoy spending time with her. I adore her and she influences me even more as an adult, I think, than as a child. She's an amazing woman.

  18. What a beautiful woman your mom is! Sounds like she's an amazing woman!

  19. What a beautiful post for a lovely woman.
    I think my kids will always remember the cookies at Christmas, that is my favorite too!
    Hope she had a great birthday.