Wednesday, April 27, 2011


My mom turned 65 earlier this month. My brother and I thought it might be fun to throw her a surprise party, so I got the ball rolling by calling one of her oldest friends, Mary Ellen, for help in putting together the guest list. I was thinking of something casual but nice, a small gathering in my home. Mary Ellen got me a few names , and I reached out to those people asking for their input...was there anyone else I should invite? Could anyone provide me with the name and contact info for anyone I may have missed? As I called each person, I quickly introduced myself. "I'm Phyllis' daughter," I'd say. The response was the same every time: "Oh my God, is she okay?" It became something of a joke, and I finally learned to preface my phone call with, "My mom's fine...I'm planning a surprise party for her!"

I started the guest list with family...9 people...then added to the list as the women I called provided me with names of people to invite. There was the friend mom walks with on Saturdays...10...and the group of teachers she worked with a few years ago that she's still very close with...16... the dear friends out of town...20...the Sunday dinner group...30...old neighbors...32...the breakfast crew...41...

The final guest list reached 49. I created an e-vite and sent it out. And promptly began receiving RSVPs and lovely notes about my mom...

"She's such a dear friend," one woman told me. Another called and said, "I love your mom as much as my own mom!" In email after email, I heard my mom described as wonderful, kind, loving, giving, funny, a great listener, a shoulder to cry on... Many of these from people I knew only in passing, if at all.

So many of us know our family members from just one perspective: mom, dad, aunt, cousin, sister, brother, daughter, son. But every person we have one label for has many other titles we may never know about until after they're gone. I'm very blessed to have met so many of my mom's dear friends now. And even more so, that I am one of only two people in this world who can call this woman "mom."

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