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.