A Birthday for the Lady Who Has Everything

 Going through my long list of drafts, I found this completed (but never published) post cataloging my Mom’s 60th birthday celebration from exactly two years ago. It brought me such joy to read it and relive that special day. If it doesn’t bore you to tears, I’ll consider it successful…but I KNOW my Mom will love it as much as I did! Happy 62nd birthday, Mama!


What in the world was I doing up at 1:38 a.m. on Monday night? (Er…morning? You know what I mean).

And why in the world did I have cinnamon underneath my fingernails?

Who in the world had me so atwitter on that early September the twentieth morn?!

This one lady.

My Mommy.

Who turned 60 years old this week.

A couple of weeks ago, as I yet again scoured my brain trying to think up the perfect gift, it dawned on me most decisively that I had one distinct goal this year: make this woman know how much I love her.


She has everything. Like books a’ million. And whozits and whatzits galore. And five gazillion comfy shirts from J. Crew.

And as far as birthdays go, she’s had 59 of them. We’ve surprised her with her sister from Texas. We’ve had surprise parties. We’ve taken her out to eat. We’ve had cook-outs. We’ve gone on out-of-state shopping trips. So what to do this year??

Then, one blessed brainstorming session with my sister-in-law produced a beautifully simple plan, one that sat so well in my heart, it was like the birthday peace that passes all understanding. I just knew it would work. It would do just the trick. She would feel loved!

We would give her a day full of memories, from morn till midnight.

And it went a little something like this:

At 9:00 a.m., a most winsome preacher/chauffer by the name of Mr. Gore arrived at the door of Mrs. Gore’s Mother. He was wearing a handsome suit, and his to-die-for curly red hair was perfectly in place. He fetched the birthday girl and escorted her down the sidewalk where birthday greetings had been written in chalk and showed her to the “Birthday Wagon,” a slightly decorated white Ford Taurus (woot woot!).

Showing her to her backseat place of honor, he shut the door, took his place in the driver’s seat, turned on the Birthday Girl’s favorite music (freshly purchased and uploaded that very morning) and drove her through the countryside and into town, slowing down in front of the preacher’s house. Standing in the street outside of the house were the preacher’s beautiful wife (with wet hair! Gasp!) and adorable children, all of them wearing real clothes and not their typical pajamas – a special occasion indeed. As the Birthday Wagon slowed and the windows lowered, they shouted felicitations and threw handfuls of birthday confetti at the Birthday Girl.

The chauffer continued slowly down the hill, and the Birthday Girl (who had wrongly assumed this would be her first stop) shouted out before her raising window snuffed out her words, “Where are we going?”

The preacher’s wife shrugged and smiled, reveling in the delight/horror on her Mother’s face, who happens to love/hate surprises.

Down the hill they drove to the home of a friend who met them at the car, pinned a pink “Birthday Girl” ribbon on the Birthday Girl’s shirt and presented a lovely handmade gift of friendship, a blue and grey rag rug that would go just perfectly in the Birthday Girl’s kitchen.

The Birthday Girl was beside herself already, and quite twitterpated.

Directly back up the hill they drove, back to the preacher’s house, parking in the driveway where more confetti was tossed and more birthday felicitations were shouted. Two sets of little hands led the Birthday Girl into the kitchen where a surprise breakfast party awaited her, all set up with fancy dishes, streamers, confetti, and several colorful birthday drawings.The buffet held a collection of prettily wrapped presents.

There were many surprises there, an antique wooden-handled screwdriver from young Gideon, a pretty candle from Miss Sunday, a package of sweet pencils from Betsie Fair, an interesting Norman Rockwell book from Mr. Gore, and two gifts from Mrs. Gore, a printed copy of Mrs. Gore’s Diary blog posts, and 4 pans of homemade cinnamon rolls.

For the Birthday Girl could live off of blog posts and cinnamon rolls.

{This, of course, is why Mrs. Gore had cinnamon underneath her fingernails on this birthday eve. She had stayed up quite late embarking on the most exciting and rather lengthy adventure of making cinnamon rolls from scratch. Many thanks to the Pioneer Woman and her easy-to-follow recipe for yeast-using novices.}

It should be noted that just as everyone sat down to eat, Betsie “Fair” had a blowout in the living room, soiling not only her pajamas, her sleepsack and her bassinet sheet, but her legs, her lower and upper back and the area just below her left ear. Happy Birthday.

When breakfast mozied to a close, Mr. Gore went off to work, sans chauffer jacket, and Mrs. Gore and her children sat with the Birthday Girl on the front porch enjoying the lovely day, a portable phone resting on the table beside them.

At 11:00 sharp, the Birthday Girl’s beloved sister called with birthday greetings, and the two enjoyed a leisurely talk on the front porch.

At 11:40, Mr. Gore came home, disappeared into the house, and then reappeared with his handsome suit coat on. The Birthday Girl literally groaned when she saw him. “Do I have to go?” she said, smiling again in horror/delight. He linked her arm through his and escorted her to the Birthday Wagon as Mrs. Gore’s little family shouted their goodbyes.

All through town they drove, twisting here and turning there, keeping the Birthday Girl in utter suspense.

{Meanwhile, Mrs. Gore RUNS into the house in a frenzy to make a cake and feed the baby before lunch is over.}

Finally, they pulled up to the house of the Birthday Girl’s third child, her youngest son, where she was led inside to find yet another mini party awaiting her, a grand lunch of chili dogs with all the fixin’s, a can of Coca Cola and a Snickers bar holding a special birthday candle.

For the Birthday Girl could live off of chili dogs, Coca Cola and Snickers.

Here she received a fancy tin of bath sugars and a beautiful collection of family photographs (taken by the talented family photographer) and had the pleasure of taking part in a homeschool lesson of crafting miniature teepees with her beautiful granddaughters. A fun time was most definitely had by all.

At 1:30, the Birthday Wagon honked its horn from outside, summoning the Birthday Girl that her birthday lunch was complete…

But alas! The winsome chauffer was gone, and in his place was none other than Mrs. Gore herself. She smiled and waved, gleeful with birthday joy and anticipation. Laughing, the Birthday Girl took her place in the passenger’s seat where a pillow, a stack of magazines and a bottle of water sat at her service, and off they drove to the next destination.

But it is difficult to house surprises when you live in a country town. Once you enter the highway, each road leads to a very specific destination, and so thirty minutes into their trip, the Birthday Girl correctly guessed where they were going.

And so Mrs. Gore lied in response….to her Mother….on her birthday. A bald-faced lie.

“No…(she hedged)…they weren’t going to meet the Birthday Girl’s 2nd son at Cracker Barrel in Shawnee! They were going…antique shopping. At a place…a friend…recommended.”

But the Birthday Girl is as gullible as she is curious, and she easily accepted the lie as truth. Thus when Mrs. Gore DID pull in to Cracker Barrel to “get a cup of coffee” and “go to the bathroom,” the Birthday Girl laid her seat down to catch a quick nap before their first antique shop.

Imagine her surprise when she heard a tap at her window and opened her eyes to find her 2nd son peeking through the window. She had been duped! After much laughter and many hugs, the Birthday Girl was seated at a table with her son and daughter-in-law and their 4-month old baby boy, along with, of course, Mrs. Gore and Betsie Fair (no longer with poop under her ear).

They shared a leisurely hour there, sipping on coffee, feasting on conversation.

For the Birthday Girl could live off of coffee and conversation.

Here she received two tickets to a Christmas symphony in December, one for her, one for her husband (who, although averse to anything in the city, actually enjoys live concerts) and a promise to be accompanied by her son and daughter-in-law.

At 4:00 sharp-ish, it was time to go, and by 5:30 the Birthday Girl was back at Mrs. Gore’s house, freshening up in the very untidy bathroom.

{Where was the birthday cake, you ask? Hiding in a kitchen drawer. Well done, Mr. Gore.}

Mrs. Gore and Betsie Fair got right back in the car and drove to a church women’s fellowship, and the Birthday Girl’s husband picked her up and squired her to Tulsa, to a fancy restaurant next to the river. A birthday date for just the two of them?

Not quite. Seated there at a table for four was the Birthday Girl’s eldest son and his wife, smiling a birthday greeting.

They enjoyed a delicious meal together, topped with key lime pie, and she was met with the last of her birthday surprises, money for a trip to her sister’s house in Texas, with extra cash for antiques and pastries.

For truly, the Birthday Girl could LIVE off of antique shopping and pastries. Especially when she is with her daughter and her sister and a couple of pots of coffee.

But I’m sorry…did I say that was the “last of her birthday surprises”? Except, of course, for her truly last surprise of a mini cake party back at Mrs. Gore’s house. There, 6 grandchildren hid in the powder bathroom and jumped out when the Birthday Girl stepped into the living room, yelling “Surprise!!! Happy Birthday!”

The birthday song was sang with gusto as the Birthday Girl and 5 little ones helped her blow out 60 candles. The “Sock-it-to-me Cake” was one of her late Mother’s most-used recipes, much-loved by the entire family for years and years…

And so it was complete. The Birthday Girl spent her entire day in the company of those who love her best.

Right before bed, a facebook video was sent of the grandchildren singing “Happy Birthday” one more time, and as the Birthday Girl tells it, she watched it over and over again…

If she didn’t go to bed that night feeling cherished, then by golly, I’ll eat my hat. Along with the three leftover pans of homemade cinnamon rolls sitting on my counter…

Happy Birthday to one amazing lady. This family just wouldn’t work right without you.

September 20, 2011

(see? told you my hair was wet…)

5 thoughts on “A Birthday for the Lady Who Has Everything

  1. That was absolutely awesome and the sweetest gift I’ve heard of! Coincidentally, 2 yrs ago my out of state siblings flew home and surprised my mother for HER 60th. She was born 8-30-51, so close to your mothers. I’m her oldest n just turned 40 on 9-10. I would love to accomplish something like this for my previous mom.

  2. I LOVE this story almost as much as I love your mom!! Truly wonderful post, I know she will never forget this magical birthday, even 2 years later!

  3. What a special birthday, planned by a special daughter for her special mother. You do everything with such gusto and finesse (sp?)…Im sure you must have inherited most of this from your wonderful mother. L.O.V.E. reading your blog….makes me feel like I was there with y’all!

  4. I love your writing – your writing shows your heart and shows your willingness to make your Mother’s birthday AWESOME!! I’ve gotta say – your Mama does NOT look like she could be 60 – she and your Daddy raised you right!

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