There are so many lovely parts of Mom’s character I could mention in honor of her birthday: her service, her generosity, her cooking, and plenty more. Instead of saying a little bit about a lot of different qualities, I’d like to focus on one action she has repeated over and over again throughout my life: her love notes.
The first time I was ever away from home for longer than just a sleepover at a friend’s house was for Camp Goddard in 5th grade. I was nervous about it and not at all sure I wanted to go, but fear of missing out won the day and I signed up to go. Mom wrote a little note for every day I was gone (maybe one for morning and one for evening) and sent me with a big Tupperware container of chocolate chip cookies for my cabin. I was so surprised when I opened my duffel bag and saw those notes, and they really did help me get through the week with less homesickness.
This continued through all my school years. Even when I wasn’t going out of town, there were a lot of days I would open my lunch sack and find a sticky note on my sandwich wrapper reminding me God loves me or telling me she was praying for my book report or choir audition or test… whatever she thought I might be anxious about that day. Sometimes she would add a little Pass It On encouragement card from the Christian bookstore down the block from our house, and I would carry it around in my pencil case for… probably the rest of the year.
When we moved last year and I went through some memory boxes, I found more of her notes, including the ones she wrote for a mission trip to Tennessee that I chaperoned during a college summer. Part of my responsibilities included driving a small group of teenagers in the 15-passenger church van through winding 2-lane mountain roads to pick up the children we were serving in day camp. We were all nervous about that! Not only did Mom write me a note for each day, she looked at the calendar, thought through what was supposed to be happening on each one, and wrote the notes as though on the given day and not a week or two in advance. She told me things such as my sister’s medical test having gone well, her and Dad arriving safely at their vacation destination, and my sisters having a good time with the woman staying with them in our absence.
The last time I remember Mom writing me special notes for a trip was when Amore and I moved to Bangkok, Thailand, halfway around the world. Even though I believed it was what God was calling me to do, I missed the family so much that I think I started crying before our flight even left the runway. I definitely remember crying in the international security screening line at LAX. Once again, Mom came through for me with a couple of weeks worth of daily or twice daily notes to help family not feel so far away.
Now she sends me encouraging words by email or text or a phone call, and I’m the one writing notes. Amore got at least a couple of dozen in his bags last year when he needed to travel so much to help his family.
Mom, you are a treasure. Thank you for loving us so well when we’re with you and making sure we don’t forget your love when we’re apart. Happy 70th birthday! May the Lord richly bless your 71st year with joy and strength. We love you! In honor of your Irish heritage, “May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live. Sláinte!”
a few sunrise photos from our old backyard... God's love note reminders to me