As we were planning the 90th birthday celebration for my mother-in-law, the question came up, “What do we give Mom?” There are three children with spouses, seven grandchildren, some with spouses, and ten great-grandchildren along with other family members. She and her husband live in a small apartment and, after 90 years, she really doesn’t need any more “things” in her life or her space.
But everyone wanted to remind her how much she is loved. I thought, “Why not tell her?” We collected thoughts, memories, pictures and even drawings. Even the littlest great-grandchildren were included. Everything was assembled into a tribute book and we presented it to her at her birthday party. She is still working her way through it, savoring what everyone who loves her had to share.
Every one of her grandchildren talked about spending summer weeks with Grandma. They each had their own memories and sometimes they were contradictory, but the message was clear. That special time was memorable for all of them.
My sister-in-law had a copy of the commencement speech my mother-in-law gave at her high school graduation. We included a picture of the original speech along with the content. She spoke about being the best you can be, “We are expected to make the best of every talent we have. Some people are expected to do more than others and this is rightly so.” All these years later, she can hold her head high, for she has lived the life she envisioned.