My Precious Mama at 94! and the Birthday Box

This Friday will be my Mama’s 94th Birthday! We have an old wooden box that we send back and forth to each other on our birthdays, though not always on the very exact day…since for us, every day gets to be a birthday!

BirthdayBox                                           mamapic

We started it one year when I gave her one of my favorite children’s books,  Wilfrid Gordon Mcdonald Partridge, by one of my favorite authors, Mem Fox. It’s about a little boy that lives next to an old folks home and loves all the people there. He goes on a hunt to find  “ a memory” and in the process creates a box for an old woman there who has lost her memory. In the box were objects that triggered many memories and feelings and delight for them both!

Our box does the same. We each add little things as we send it back and forth. No box could hold all the incredible memories I have with my Mama, nor could it hold all the love and delight we share with each other. In the box there’s a fairy, an acorn cap, a feather, a tiny knitted fairy hat, my friend Becky’s Song to the St. of Lost Things, a Chinese bell, a slipper shell, a button with Great Grandchildren on it, a vintage doll dress, a grapevine wreath, a sparkling pine cone that has a baby rabbit curled up inside of it, some old slides of past houses and pets, the words ‘thank you’, a wishbone, a twinkly star, a button, a dime, an angel, a child’s spoon with the rhyme of The Old Woman in the Shoe, a little brass shoe, and some pins of Duke and Randolph Macon’s Woman’s College, and Mother Mary. Oh, and a birthday box can’t be complete without some fairy birthday napkins!

My Mama has always been in my life from the very start! She birthed me, nursed me, loved me every day that I’ve lived my life! You know what it’s like to have someone delight in you always? That’s what she’s like…ALWAYS! no matter what! No conditions, no measurements needed. I fit! I fit into her heart always! And so does she in mine.

We’re both left-handed, and right brained, and see everything as ONE! Our thoughts curl, our hair curls, and my goal is to have a beautiful heart and hair like hers when I’m her wonderful age of 94! And by the grace of god, we are an even 30 years apart! I’m so grateful for that! It’s my benchmark for remembering how old I am and how old she is. We even share the same birthday month and astrological sign! We both forget things but we always remember old Camp Junaluska songs since I went to the same camp she did when she was little. Probably either of us could talk your ears off, and we can care and listen as deeply as well.

My Mama taught me to have fun with just about anything! She helped me look for the diamond in everyone and never give up til I found it. She’s been there when I didn’t reach my goals, when I felt shy or not enough. When I would get scared at night, she’d read to me her favorite Psalm 121: I lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help…. She taught me to welcome everyone into our home, fuller brush men, jehovah’s witnesses, strangers and even kissin kin!

I don’t know how to post this here, but here’s a video of my mom and me dancing after she worked so hard setting up for and cleaning up after my Dad’s 90th birthday at The Farm. This was a spontaneous surprise for my mom as she was driving off! I’m so glad Hannah captured this moment on film for all of us! Thank you Hannah! Someday I hope I can dance with you like this! Reminds me of another children’s book: My Mama Had a Dancin’ Heart! by Libba Gray

Here’s address to go to for Hannah’s wonderful video of My Dancin’ Mama!



A set of memories that keeps popping in my head about my Mama was our birthday parties. She could come up with the most amazing parties! And get my Dad involved, too! I remember roller skating parties in the Mill warehouse on Moss Street, and getting to ride with my friends in boxes on the conveyor belt rollers. Probably the best memory I have is of the Hobo Party Mama came up with. I think it was a year when I was around 11 years old and felt pretty shy. I wanted to have ALL of my friends but not have them split up into clicky groups, like preteens would do. She came up with the Hobo theme and a rotating game party. Each person was given a stick with a bandana tied to the end of it. In the bandana were a variety of objects. I honestly can’t remember how it worked but somehow we each moved from table to table mixing with different friends, to play different games at each table. At some point we opened our bandanas and traded different objects. I remember being really amazed at how she worked it all out.

My Mama’s clock ticks from her heart not from a time piece…and her sense of distance is non-existent…after all, we’re all ONE and that includes getting from point A to B. Everywhere is on the way to everywhere else.
The power of the heart still trumps everything in her life. She lives from it and through it and goes around polishing the diamonds in everyone, leaving a wake of joy and delight in her path.

There’s only one thing about Mama that’s hard to deal with…and that’s that she’s going to be a hard act to follow. Yet since she also taught me to be myself, I’ll let that be my guide instead.

Another thing about Mama, or sometimes Mom, is that she HAS to offer you something to eat and always to drink, and has to send something home with you…sometimes she works so hard at making you feel at home that it’s downright uncomfortable. She can empty the whole refrigerator just to make one sandwich. But it’ll be a good sandwich…just might take awhile to clean up after it.

Since Mama’s mind is always focusing on the best of things… sometimes in the process, she might not quite focus on what she’s doing or where she’s going…hence finding her eyeglasses in the top shelf of the refrigerator makes sense, and that she might come home with someone else’s groceries from the grocery store, or put her girdle in some man’s raincoat pocket at a restaurant and get home to find it not in her own. Yet these weren’t the important things…the important things had to do with being with people and loving them.

No worries about getting lost either, because my Dad always said that making a wrong turn was the beginning of an adventure, so we got to go on lots of adventures! My Mama didn’t just love to send us back to school with food or shove more food on our plates. She LOVED to take meals to other people. Seems like we were always holding some casserole to take to old Mrs. Somebody in time for dinner. I don’t know how she did it but she managed quite alot of meals on wheels. And she still manages to do that these days as well.

Making mistakes wasn’t really something that could happen with Mama. Or maybe it’s fits better to say that Nothing could be a mistake, only a learning. And things that others could interpret as mistakes or not socially sophisticated, really became being a fool for God. From her I learned that anything can be turned into something beautiful and valuable. Basically Life can only be a win/win in her book!

So thank you Mama, for being not just my Mama, but the most amazing Mama. If I spell Mama backwards, which to me is a true test of forever, it makes sense that Mama spells, Am am. Because of you, Mama, and Dad, I AM. Thank you for my life! You are forever my delight. I love you so! now and forever!

Happy Birthday! and thank you for mine!





  1. Gael said,

    January 16, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Thank you for writing this, Ann. I love your Mama, too. She’s always been so sweet to me. She’s one of my very favorite people.

  2. Ann Gordon said,

    January 16, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    She loves you guys, too, Gael. Thanks for your note. I’m not sure if we and the Birthday Box will make it to see her tomorrow. I know she’s been feeling pretty sick this week with coughs and aches and whatever’s going around. We may try to pace our visits over a few different days! Take care! Hope you are well. Love, Ann

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