Today is my beautiful mother-in-law's 80th birthday. She didn't want a big celebration, although she deserves it after raising nine boys into nine wonderful men.
...Probably because that would tempt all nine boys plus their families to converge on her house (or nearby vicinity) all at once...and even for a wonderful mother, that's a lot of family to take all at once, especially after the year she's had.
She lost Pop in August, after a big reunion in July where almost all of the brothers overlapped in Florida for at least a day, celebrating Pop's 80th birthday and two brothers' 50th birthdays. Everyone converged again to celebrate his life at a beautiful wake and stayed as long as they could to help Mom get things settled.
While she's always amazed me (can you imagine raising nine boys?) her grace and strength over the past year have been such an inpiration to me. But then, from the moment I met Tom almost thirty-two years ago, Mom has been teaching me about faith and hope. Thanks to her gentle guidance, I eventually converted to Catholicism, although I knew she would love and accept me whether I did or not.
Instead of one big celebration for her birthday, she's getting a few mini-celebrations over the month. One son visited last week and Tom is there now, along with two other sons (one lives nearby) and our son Daniel. I'm sure the days have been filled with plenty of cribbage and 3-13, and the requisite name-calling and cussing that goes along with the competition.
She may be joyful and quick with a hug, but watch out for her when you're playing cards!
I would love to be able to give her a big hug and let her stomp me as usual in 3-13 today, but I'm just grateful I was able to share Tommy's wedding with her last month, where she danced with her sons, grandsons, and even the bride.
Now here I am, a mother-in-law myself. If I'm only half as good at it as Mom has been, my daughter-in-law is a lucky woman. I learned from the best.
Happy 80th birthday, Mom. Thank you for embracing me as your daughter all those years ago...for all the hugs and help...and especially for your grace and strength that comes from your immense faith. I love you!
For more about Mom, read The Sugar on Top, Part 1.