Monday, September 1

A birthday to remember!

I am finally here to tell you about the really memorable birthday that my mother enjoyed just a week ago this past Sunday! It's funny how things work out because, to be honest, they don't always work out the way you think they will! Sometimes that's good, sometimes not so good.

To start the story, I have to tell you what I did - or my friends did - last year for my mother's birthday. I enlisted them to do a little something special when my mother turned 79. I asked them to send her a card and put a fat quarter in with it. :-) Well, my mother got over 40 + cards and lots of fabric as some people sent more than just one fat quarter. It was such a simple request of my friends but they got right to it and it was fun not just for my mom but for my dad, too. When my mom would go to the mailbox she'd have a bundle of cards and then would take them on to the Care Center to share with my dad. He thought it was such a novel idea that he said we should call the local newspaper! :-) I sent my thanks to all my quilting friends for being so generous.
This year, I had no idea what to do for my mother's birthday. With the passing of my dad, I feared it could be really sad. And my sister and brother weren't going to be able to make it back for her birthday so I was concerned. Then an opportunity arose to make the day unique. Back in June when I went home for my hometown's 125th celebration (Lehigh, Iowa), I organized a quilt show with my mom which was really well-received and I also presented a hymn program at the Christian Church where I wove the history of Lehigh with the history of hymns. I can sing acapella and so I chose a hymn from each decade to share. I was excited to do the program and it went well but almost nobody came. :-( However, Rev. Laird plus a few church members enjoyed it so much that they invited me to come back and wanted me to come for their end-of-the-month potluck in August. I realized quickly it would work to come then because I would be visiting for my mother's birthday. So I told them I would come and would it be okay if I brought a cake for my mom's birthday? Then the plans began. It was going to be a bit of a surprise but one of the ladies of the church "let the cat out of the bag" so my mom knew we would be celebrating. And that turned out to be a good thing. I was a bit worried that my mom wouldn't want to go because this was the church where my dad's service was held and I knew it might be hard for her. Plus she's had health issues since my dad's passing so I wondered, would she go? Well, she did and she surprised me with a little something on Sunday morning. She gets up earlier than I do and so while I slept she made some notes about when she was a child and going to Sunday School at the Christian Church and remembering stories and people from the 1930's and 1940's. She had written it all down and read it to me and suggested I might want to read it as part of my hymn program. I thought it would be better read by her, so much more personal, but she was concerned she might get nervous. So she said "we'll see when we get there."

The potluck wasn't scheduled til 1:00 p.m. so we decided not to make the drive up to go to church that morning but instead went outside her apartment and weeded her little garden so it would look nice for Labor Day weekend. She has these lovely flowers that are called "Naked Ladies" - we think because they have no leaves. We cleared the garden of the weeds and rearranged all her pots and little animals and then I took a picture of the "Naked Ladies". Aren't they lovely? I decided I had to "google" this and found that they are Amaryllis also known as Belladonna Lily or Naked Ladies flowers!

With the garden looking lovely, it was time to make ourselves lovely and get to the potluck. So a quick shower and a change of clothes and we were on our way. It smelled good as soon as we walked in the door of the church basement! You can see the ladies setting the food out and it was delicious. My mom said "it was like an old threshing meal, there was so much food and it was all so good!" She was right. There was homemade chicken and noodles and other hot dishes, deviled eggs, homemade bread, potato salad, cornbread casserole, chicken wings, fruit salads, baked beans, and we took a little bit of all of it!

Then there was dessert - brownies and cherry pie and birthday cake! And then we all sang "Happy Birthday, Mary"! Her she is with her cake before we cut into it and served it up with ice cream.

And then I shared the history of Lehigh intertwined with some old hymns and this time there were about 40 people who enjoyed it. Just before closing, I asked my mother to share her memories and she got right up and started reading and then exchanging memories with those who had come to the potluck and she never got one bit nervous! I closed with a final hymn "God be with you til we meet again" and then we spent more time visiting with old friends. It was a really great day!
After we left the church, we took a drive and I snapped lots of pics and here are just a couple. This is the Des Moines River that flows through Lehigh. In June, it was high and flowing out of it's banks. As the water receded the trees washed downriver collected on the old railroad bridge pier.

Further south of town and near the turn to the old tile company, we looked out and saw these horses on the hillside. You can see the clay in the hillside. It's what made Lehigh many years ago. The clay was taken from the hills and turned into bricks and clay tile for drains and sewers. I'm collecting memories of our little town and one day, it'll be a little book called "Hills of Clay, Memories of the Lehigh River Valley". It was a great place to grow up.

When we got back to my mom's apartment, we sat outside for a bit just to enjoy the nice day. The butterflies kept flitting among her flowers and one especially beautiful Monarch was truly an "elusive butterfly". She just wouldn't pose long enough for me to get her picture, but I finally managed to snap this other butterfly in the picture below. They were all just lovely as they danced among the flowers.

And so that's it. It was a wonderful birthday. And it wasn't even over then because the next day was actually her birthday and so I had some gifts for her, plus a couple from the grandkids. Then we took the leftover cake and cookies for coffeetime to the ladies at the Care Center and they sang another chorus of "Happy Birthday" to her! That's as good as it gets!

So here I am a week later and still thinking about those butterflies and I decided I have to do a butterfly quilt. I need a "kitchen project", you know, one that I can work on when I am waiting for something to boil or bake, or just waiting for my husband to get home for dinner. So, I am going to begin blocks so that I can reproduce the butterfly quilt that was started by my Aunt Bell and finished by my mother. You can see it here as it was one of the quilts from the quilt show. I have white blocks cut and I'll use some of my feedsack stash for the butterflies. If I work on them all winter then I'll have butterflies blocks to stitch together come next spring!!
And that reminded me that my friend, Jan, had given me an old butterfly quilt from her mother-in-law so I pulled that out and took this picture. You can see it is very worn, very tired and very tattered which means it was much loved and used which is what should happen to a quilt. Now, I am contemplating what I will do with it. The basic fabric is in good shape but half the butterflies are missing or torn. I think I will snip the ties, remove the batting and repair and replace the butterflies. We did this to a Sunbonnet Sue quilt at the historical society and it turned out well. What would you do with the quilt?
We have had a lovely weekend here and I hope you have had the same. And for all those who are in harms way from the hurricane or wherever you may be, prayers go out for your safety. Time to turn out the lights and get to bed. Goodnight, sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite!!

P.S. Yes, this is a "long-winded" post but I couldn't tell it any other way. Blogging for me these past few months has been better than therapy and a whole lot cheaper! Am enjoying new friendships and there's so much to share and read about on other blogs!!


Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

I loved reading about your mom's birthday. How lovely that you had 2 days of celebration with her. The pot luck reminds me of the pot lucks at my church growing up in Pennsylvania. We had a small congregation that really didn't change too much in all the years I lived there. Now there is several groups of my religion living in that area. But when I lived there it was such a family atmosphere because we were small and all supported eachother. My mom served in all the organizations of the church when I was a kid. Anyway your post and pictures got me thinking about those good old days at my church. How sweet that you have a lovely acapella voice. That much loved butterfly quilt is darling. I love to "remake" or reproduce old quilts. It is fun to make a new quilt based on an old one. I have never repaired an old quilt. Happy Labor Day Sandi.

DiddleDaddleDesigns said...

What a lovely day. I know your mom must have enjoyed it so much.

She is a beautiful lady too.


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