Sources of Joy: Mom’s 75th Birthday

It all came together.

We picked up the latex and Mylar balloons, swept the floor, set up the table, arranged the food and cake, laid out the name tags and readied for the guests who were coming to celebrate Mom’s 75th birthday.

They came from all different points in her life.

Her sister Helen, who Mom does not remember not knowing.

Sandy Spingarn, a neighbor from Griggs Terrace, where we spent most of our childhood.

Mary Shea, whose mother Rose McKay cared for us when we were kids.

Jo Solet, an occupational therapist Mom met and worked with shortly after her accident in 1986.

Chris Warner, who stayed at Mom’s house on Linden Street on weekends in 1995 and 1996 while he was a student at Noble and Greenough School.

And Minwen and Shan Shan Du, Mike’s in-laws.

This is not an exhaustive list, and you get the idea.

The mood matched the light that filtered in and filled the apartment.

People came in and instantly sought out Mom, who was a vision in blue. Her hat, sweater and skirt were all a light blue. She wore a purple lei around her hat and neck.

We sang Happy Birthday to Mom and our cousin Jenny, who turns 45 next month.

Dunreith divvied up the red velvet cake with a picture of Mom on top and passed out the slices.  Mom sat down the Steinway piano and started talking.

She told everyone she felt blessed and grateful they were there.

She read a three-line poem a young man she worked with at New Habitat had written in which he concluded, “I am weaving my life.”

She read a poem she had written about being pure potential possibility.

And then she led us in a song she had written that said, over and over again, “I am here.”

I am here to serve.

I am here to give.

I am here to love.


Love is what Mom has given throughout her life.

Love is what brought people who come from Brookline Village to Haiti, from Boston to Taiwan, to gather to celebrate with and honor Mom for all she has done and been in her life.

The group dispersed shortly after Mom opened the floor for others to speak and Jo Solet’s voice choked as she called Mom an inspiration.

We hugged and thanked everyone for coming as they started to leave.

We sent regards to family members and made plans to keep in touch.

We started to clean up the table and do the dishes before getting ready to take Mike and Annie to the airport.

As with the preparations, my brothers, our wives and my son did the work together.

Although Mom told the crowd she looked forward to seeing everyone at her 80th birthday, the truth is none of us know how much time we have on the planet.

But we do know that we’ve had many gifts from Mom-her tenacity, her humor, her insight, her intelligence, her generosity-and we do know that each of those are to be savored.

Today included many of them.

We are grateful.

Happy Birthay, Mom.


6 responses to “Sources of Joy: Mom’s 75th Birthday

  1. Alice Lowenestein

    Jeff-Thank you for your words, your love and your live. You are the first, the one who taught me how to be a mother. As I sat in a chair with my feet up, watching everyone cooperating, everyone working as if by magic, I realized that our family did not exist until your father and I got together. Now that I am 75, I see that having a loving family, a family that cooperates with each other, a family that knows it is important just to be together is what life is all about. All the rest is extra.

    For me to be with those I knew when they were growing inside me, those whom I knew when they were growing inside their mothers, those I knew when all of us were much, much younger, brought me a picture of my life.
    After my accident, i saw the world in a very different way. I saw an enormous ball made up of bands of love rolled up together. The more we love, the more we help, the more compassion we have, the less anger, terror and hate we have, the more the bands of love get larger. The more love is in the world.

    All of us have the family we were born into. I remember choosing my father because I loved his dreams of what was possible in the world. Then we seek out our spiritual family, those who are like us in dreams. Sometimes it is very difficult for us to recognize some of our family. Maybe it’s the color of their skin, or their culture, or the name of their God, or the way they pray. Except anyone who loves, anyone who gives, anyone who imagines how the world could be better for them and their family, and for everyone and their children, are part of my spiritual family.

    I cannot weave all the dreams of everyone together. Only The Spirit of Love, Truth and Creation can do that. Since the accident, when I discovered that God lives, that God questions why I did not do everything I had promised to do, so that what I imagine, think, feel and do matter. Abraham, Sarah and Hagar have watched the nations Abraham is father of, fight like siblings. He has seen for 5,000 years how not honoring his first son Ishmael has caused millions to be harmed.

    Abraham has seen how acting not honoring his first son has harmed the world. It matters how we treat the people in our family. We need to treat them with love, joy, honor and respect just as we treat God. As we praise God, so we need to praise those we love. As we worship God, so we need to see and worship the God in everyone.

    When someone you love is filled with hate, with judgement, making himself feel good by belittling others, you need to love the person and judge the behavior. All of us have a choice once we grow up. What kind of a person do we want to imitate? Who do we want to be like? What did the person know and do that we want to learn and do? We can choose anyone to imitate. We can be like anyone. It is up to us what kind of character we have, what kind of dreams we have, and whether we are responsible to learn how to create our dreams.

    By ourselves, alone we are fragile. We do not have a great deal of power. The only power we have is mastering our emotions, and finding and choosing our ability to live from love, to live from the middle road between all extremes. When we share our dreams with those we love, we become stronger. When those we love work to help us create our dreams, all of us become bigger still.

    We each of us walks with God, listens to God, surrenders our will to God, then all dreams are possible. The collective dream of a loving world, a world where every child has opportunities is possible. My Muslim computer repairman told me that all of us are waiting for God to show us how we will work together. I know I am waiting.

    Having sons who love me, having sons who threw me a party to honor everything. I cannot move forward without all of my family with me. My family is all those who love me, whether they could come to the party or not.

    Your Mother

  2. Alexandra Spingarn

    It gave me great pleasure to see the three Lowenstein sons together and everyone doing so well. Thank you for including me in honoring your mother, Alice, on her 75th Birthday. We lived near each other years ago and I remember so many wonderful occasions we shared.
    I hope we will continue to share them.
    With Love, Sandy Spingarn and Jason and Noah Koff

  3. What a beautiful tribute to your Mom, Jeff. She is blessed to have 3 wonderful sons, 2 beautiful daughter-in-laws, and a great grandson as you are all blessed to have her.

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