50 Years of Memories

Last month, my mom hit a pretty big milestone birthday. I wanted to do something extra special for her, but a surprise party would have been sort of ho-hum since all of her family lives in England (and there would be no way to get them all to California, even for the big five-oh). So I found a way to help her feel close to her friends and family who couldn't be with her on her big day.

Over the course of the three months leading up to her birthday I gathered 50 notes from family and friends, each with a special memory of my mom. At first I thought there was no way I'd reach 50 notes without stuffing all the envelopes with my own memories, but as her birthday got closer the notes came pouring in. Many people sent their notes via e-mail so I got a bit of a sneak peek of what the finished memory project would look like - and it was so cool to get a glimpse of my mom through different eyes.

The notes ran the gamut from funny to heartfelt to downright embarrassing memories.There was a recollection of a Christmas morning from one of her brothers, a few tales of wild teenage nights from her old best friend, the story of her first date with my dad, notes full of gratitude and love from parents whose children attended her daycare. I learned she was loved for her ability to listen and understand, her humor and her willingness to try anything once (including 5 shots of tequila).

When it was finished, I tied up all the notes with some baker's twine and put a note on top that read:

Inside these envelopes you'll find some notes, some photos and lots of memories. 50 years of memories. They've come from your friends and family, from all times and places in your life. You've given everyone in your life such beautiful and fun memories, and now we're giving them back to you. 

Happy Birthday, Mom! 

I love you.

On her birthday, I drove to California to surprise her with the kids right as she was getting off of work. After Lucas presented her the raspberry lemon cake he helped make, I gave her the package of notes, and we spent the evening drinking wine while reading and laughing and tearing up a bit over 50 years worth of amazing memories.

It was so cool to see my mom react to each of the notes, to remember moments she had all but forgotten. She demanded I do it all over again when she turns 100. We'll see.

Inspiration for this project came from this post.