Sunday, January 31, 2010

Music to our ears: Mom turns 85 today

Mavis Gabriel Smith turns 85 today, but her family couldn't wait to celebrate such a joyous landmark occasion. Saturday we baked bruna kakor for the first time, prepared hot beef sandwiches and potato soup, and polished off a bottle of very affordable chardonnay just doing a toast.

Today the bulletin at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church is dedicated to Mom, and a more deserving person you could not find among the entire congregation. She is distressed over Pastor Tom leaving soon for a new assignment, so we do what we can to put her mind at ease.

I watched her closely last night, as you do when you marvel at someone who has aged so gracefully and still pushes ahead in her twilight years with a big smile and an enduring purpose. That is great granddaughter Nora beside her in the photo, a remarkable image that tells you so much about our family.

As we sang Happy Birthday I was engulfed in memories of my mother and how, without really trying, she shaped the musical directions of her children. For starters, it was she who purchased the first Beatles record in our family, "I Want to Hold Your Hand." She made sure we saw the Mitchell Boys Choir from Harlem when they came through town. We sang along with Mitch, for crying out loud. Mom, with Dad's support, was the reason Sue played saxophone, Mary played flute and both Jeannie and I wound up in percussion (though I would quickly flee the drum kit to pursue mindless endeavors.) Money was always tight but I remember more than once Mom slipping us enough money to go downtown and buy a record album. It's the reason we had 33 rpms like "A Symphony For Tommy" playing on our turntable.

Last night she listened intently as audio from the day's Dairyland Conference Solo and Ensemble competition was played and grandson Carter did her proud. And we were reminded once again: This is all about family. It always has been and always will be. We can never forget to thank our parents for that.

And we should never forget to celebrate a birthday in style, especially the big eight-five. Happy birthday, Mom.


  1. "I would quickly flee the drum kit to pursue mindless endeavors" ...

    Sounds like from the fire to the frying pan.

    Congrats to your mom, count yer blessings.

  2. Simply beautiful, and captured for all time. Now you have me humming "Won't you come home, Bill Bailey" as memories of Dad and Mitch Miller take over.

  3. Happy Birthday, Miss Mavis.
    Moms make the world go 'round, and you are the living proof.
    A finer family was never raised.

  4. Someone got her a new Packer jersey, right?
    Number 85 in the program, Number 1 in your hearts...Mavis Ochocinco!

  5. Congrats on sprinting to the finish line on the first year of Six String. Keep 'er rolling, it makes the world better and more interesting.

    But more importantly, thanks for sharing a little bit of your mom and family with us. very sweet!

  6. Happy Birthday to your mom, Jim! You are a lucky man. When we came home for the reunion last summer, she was at the pub with her daughters. She recognized me instantly and gave me a big hug. It meant a lot...please give her a birthday hug from me.