Tuesday, July 31

Put It All Together

At my mother's 39th birthday party (billed as "her last birthday" on the invitations) our family hosted a gathering in the backyard of our home. Friends, family, neighbors, possibly even strangers congregated at our place for food and gab. In addition, as is wont to do in any family gathering if your surname is G-W-I-L-L-I-A-M, there was entertainment. I am certain some of it was good, possibly even great entertainment, but except for a single entry on the evening's stage, I cannot recall specifics. What I do remember with crystal clarity is my older brother, then 17 years old, who sang his own rendition of the M.O.T.H.E.R. song--long before made charming by young children's choruses the world over. He of course put a spin on it and began his serenade thusly,

M is for the Million things she gave me....
O is for the Other things she gave me....
T is for The things that she gave me....

He continued through the letters of the word in this hilariously repetitive pattern until reaching the capping point of the song.

Put them all together, they spell Mother....
And brother what A Mother she can be!"

At which point the audience of family, friends, neighbors and strangers erupted into voluminous laughter. There were some who had to wipe tears, others who were doubled over clutching their stomachs in fits of giggles. And yet, no one was laughing harder than my Mom. Her cheeks were flushed red and her eyes sparkled and danced while the laughs poured forth.

Brother, what a mother.


What a mother I have!

I know she will smile as she reads this post today. She might have even begun crying at this point, but just in case she hasn't I want to cite few things I appreciate deeply about my Mom. And I want to share some photos.

This is my Mom:

She is a lovely woman. I dare say, she has always been.

My mom loves her children--six of us along with our six spouses--deeply, passionately, and forever.

She especially loves that her children gave her grandchilren. Currently she boasts 19 of them. She loves each of them without bounds and without end.

She's been married to my Dad for 46 years.

They are still crazy about each other.

My mom is so many things. A loyal friend, a fierce advocate, a talented musician, a caring, kind and loving human being. At the core of my Mom is that same young mother throwing her head back in laughter at her son's birthday foolery. She loves people; she loves life and she taught me to do the same.

A few years have passed since that "last birthday" was celebrated and in fact, today, my mom is turning 65 years old. Certainly that calls for celebration! In spite of the fact that in three days time I get to throw my arms around her and wish her welcome to Holland, I want to shout as loudly as I can today and share with her my warmest wishes for a happy, happy birthday!

After all:

M is for the many things she gave me
O means only that she's growing old
T is for the tears she shed to save me
H is for her heart of purest gold
E is everything she did to help me
R is right and right she'll always be!

Put them all together they spell 'mother'. The word that means the world to me!*

I love you Mom. Happy Birthday.

*Written in 1915 by Howard Johnson


Look deep in the glass
My own reflection stares back
With my mother's eyes**


  1. your mum sounds wonderful, Jenn. I just LOVE seeing all those old photos of your family - and I think your mum is SO lucky to have a daughter who loves her so much...and to have six children and 19!!! grandkids....and such a long-lasting marriage. She must certainly have a few happy-life-secrets up her sleeve!

    Hope she has a happy, happy birthday!

  2. I love that you call her my MUM. It makes the word sound exotic to me...
    Thanks Rebecca for joining in with the happy birthday wishes!

  3. mum...mom...glad I could make such an everday (but very important!) word sound exotic!

  4. First of all - will you loan her to me? Your mom/mum sounds so, so, wonderfully lovely. Happy Birthday to her. Yipee - she's eligible for universal health care in the US (aka Medicare).

    Secondly I hope my children have such happy thoughts about me as you do with yours.

    AND HAPPY VISIT! How much fun that will be!!

  5. What a wonderful tribute to your mother. Have a lovely visit!

  6. What a beautiful dedication post. Made tears well up in my eyes. Speaking as a person who never had a mother. You and your siblings are truly blessed.

    The Real Life Drama Queen

  7. What a wonderful tribute.

    My mom is one of my bff's and I wouldn't know what to do without her.

    Moms ROCK!

    Happy "39th", MOM!

  8. SMID-
    I hope my kids remember the good things about me too!

    Thanks! Only 3 more sleeps till they arrive!

    And you are a blessing to your kids. Truly.


  9. She does sound wonderful!! I'm glad she'll be there soon.

    She must be very loving and grounded to have raised six and still keep her sanity! LOL....

    Happy Bithday and many many many more!

  10. Tell your Mom that we all wish her a very happy anniversary of her "Last Birthday"! It's obvious that she did something right: she raised you. I know that I don't have to tell you this, but have a GREAT time when she comes to see y'all!

  11. She's absolutely gorgeous. My favorite pic is the black and white one of her and your dad. So much personality in that one little picture!!! Beautiful tribute, Jenn. And I even liked the Haiku!

    Happy, happy Birthday, Jenn's mom!

  12. Oh, dear, Jenn... I'm already emotional today. I finished the revisions on a manuscript I've been working on for way too long.

    And then I read your post and I'm simply teary.

    What a wonderful post! I'm sure it's the best b'day gift a mother can have.

    And I LOVED your brother's rendition, too. Cool.

  13. dd-
    I know! I can't imagine the *joys* of SIX! woah.

    Thanks, I will pass the groetjes! I am really looking forward to their arrival on Friday!

    That's my fave photo too! And admit it, you LOVED the Haiku. You want to write bunches and bunches of them... don't you?

    I made my mom cry too!
    Congrats on finishing manuscript revisions. Well done, you.

  14. She sounds wonderful! I imagine that you did make her cry becuase that post made me cry!

    Happy Birthday to your mom!

  15. She sounds like a terrific person! Happy Birthday to her.

  16. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Best wishes to your mother on the anniversary of the last birthday -- Hope you have a wonderful visit together!

  17. what a wonderful tribute to your mom, she surely seems fantastic!
    Happy birthday to her!

  18. awww - happy birthday mom!

  19. Jenn, I'm a 67-year-old mom of three, with seven grandchildren, and you made ME tear up. What a wonderful, beautiful, special tribute to your mother! I would be happy with the haiku alone, which is perfect for this post.

    Happy Birthday ... I mean ... Happy Anniversary of your last birthday, Jenn's mom! And may you enjoy every minute in the Netherlands with Jenn and family.

    Thank you, Jenn.

  20. Happy Birthday to your mom! She sounds just wonderful. I hope you are having a fabulous visit with her.

    And I loved the haiku! I had just been thinking while looking at those pictures of your mom that you have her eyes. So warm and friendly!

  21. This is such a lovely tribute and your best haiku so far - except the train one was pretty good. ;)

  22. Okay, now what kind of blog friend are you? I go away for 10 days and come back to find that 1) I have missed a contest that involved chocolate, 2) you get me back onto an addiction that I have swore off of as I was irritating almost everyone in earshot by talking in haiku, and 3) you go an make me cry on the first of the blogs that I view. Jeez girl, that'll teach me to go on vacation!!

    BTW, you met mine, can I meet yours?! Wish her a (belated) happy birthday from me and I'll talk to ya soon!

  23. Thank you for that beautiful post. It made me a little teary, especially since I am so far away from my own mom and miss her terribly.