I love doing things that make people smile and who would I want to smile more than my mother! The thing is though – mum smiling usually means me crying. I guess I should explain. Mum just turned 70 and honestly she looks to be in her low sixties. She’s one adorable woman who keeps fit, looks after herself (and everyone she loves) and has an optimistic outlook on life. She’s little and blonde and still beautiful. The fact that she’s been through more grief than most and still stays happy is a testament to her strength of character.
I’m extremely proud that she’s my Mum and my brother and sister agree. That’s why, with the help of her partner Dieter, we planned a surprise 70th Birthday party.
When she walked into the function area of the surf club she may have noticed the birthday balloons but once she saw all her grandchildren’s beaming faces and her great-granddaughter toddling towards her, she knew something was definitely up (in a good way). But turning to her right and seeing a friend of over 50 years I think it finally dawned on her that the party was for her.
Funny thing was she promptly playfully slapped Dieter’s arm which brought peals of laughter. Then she went straight to this special friend for a big hug. The grins on both faces were wide enough to span a river. The tears on my face had begun.
We enjoyed a wonderful night of nostalgia, particularly with the photo album of Mum’s life that my sister had created. The food was plentiful as were the drinks and Mum couldn’t wipe the smile off her face. I think she barely had time to eat but she had more important things to do like catching up with old friends.
I’d written a letter to Mum from my brother, sister and myself to read out. I get all mushy at the best of times so I didn’t think I was up to reading it out. So I figured my brother or sister would. I was wrong. So, I was up the front calling them up and holding open the letter. They stayed where they were and told me to try to read it.
So with Mum’s arm around me I began. I got to the second paragraph and my voice wobbled and the page became a blur. I looked up hopefully and found my brother’s face in the crowd. I was willing him with my eyes to come up and take over. Instead he nodded at me to continue, so I choked back the tears and kept going with Mum squeezing me tighter. There were tears in her eyes but she was still smiling.
Then I got to the part about Mum writing me a special letter not long after Dad had died. Tears were dripping down my face in earnest but I continued despite sounding like a cat whose tail had been run over and looking like a rat under a tap. Somehow I got to the end – wobbly.
Everyone clapped and though I felt like I was looking through bubble wrap I could see most people were wiping away tears.
My brother said, “It’s about time you read out something you wrote.” Later it got me thinking that he was right. I rarely read out anything I wrote and definitely never anything as personal as that letter to Mum.
Reading your stories and sharing them is something all writers should try. I never realised how rewarding telling my own stories could be because I’d got into the habit of keeping many of them to myself.
Why not write a testimonial to someone you love and read it out in front of your family? It may bring you all closer. It may bring a smile to the face of the person you love. Give it a go and let me know the results.