Last month I reached a milestone in my life — my sixtieth birthday. Sixty birthdays have come and gone. My two daughters are now adults and successfully living independent lives. I have three adorable grandchildren and that young handsome guy I married so many years ago has a full head of gray hair and remains the love of my life.
There is not much that I need or want at this point in my life. I am well aware that buying a birthday gift for me is not an easy task for my family. However, this year my elder daughter gave me a gift that will forever be a priceless treasure to me.
Unbeknownst to me, two months ago Annie sent a letter to my family, as well as to new and old friends.
Would you please jot down a favorite memory you have of my mom so that she knows that her nearest and dearest are thinking of her on her birthday? It doesn’t have to be anything fancy — you can just write it down on a piece of paper and sign your name — the more nostalgic the better. The goal: to accumulate sixty years of memories filling sixty envelopes.
On my birthday, after I had blown out the candles on my cake, my daughter hugged me and handed me a thick stack of white business-sized envelopes. Wrapped around the stack was the following note:
Happy Sixtieth Birthday Mom!
You are loved by so many people and you have made so many people’s lives better by simply being you. I’m honored and blessed to call you my mom!
As I held the letters in my hands, my eyes filled with tears. I was touched by Annie’s thoughtful effort. As I read the letters, I was amazed by the number of people who responded to my daughter’s simple request. And as I continued to read, I was astounded by how many events I had forgotten. I had forgotten – but my family and friends had not. Recollections of simple things done together. Simple, but meaningful.
My aunt and uncle sent me a copy of their formal wedding day photograph taken over fifty years ago. In the black and white photograph I am standing in the front row and I am seven years old. My aunt enclosed a note saying “A memorable day – so glad you could be part of it.”
My dear 85 year old friend, Betty reminded me of a sad trip we took together to the veterinarian’s office. She recalled how I put my hand on hers as the vet administered an injection that put Betty’s cat out of pain.
According to my Aunt Lou, I deliberately omitted gardenias from my bridal bouquet, because I knew she was allergic to their fragrance.
And there were many more stories like these. Touching reminders of the great 60 years of my life. Annie’s effort, and all of the many memories, touched my heart and mind far more powerfully than a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers ever would have.
Think about this simple effort when your loved ones’ birthday is drawing near. If you choose to follow my daughter’s example, you will be giving the best gift anyone could ever receive — the gift of sweet memories!