From Your Daughter Debbi

Happy Birthday, Mom! I’m truly loving this time of life when you live so close and we are able to spend so much time together. It is precious beyond words! But when I think back, I feel fortunate to have so many memories of good times together. These memories make me realize that the biggest of your many gifts to me as my mother has been the gift of your presence – the simple but unequalled gift of time and attention. To name a few of the things for which I am grateful: all the nights you read to me at bedtime, passing to me your love of books and reading; our weekly outings for hot fudge sundaes after school when we lived in Pittsfield; teaching me to sew (well) and knit (I need a refresher); taking me with you and Dad to the symphony series when I was in grade school, even though it meant staying up late on a school night, and in many other ways teaching me to appreciate music; playing cards and watching soaps together; showing me the fun of camping and being close to nature; and sharing your strong and quiet faith.

Your being such a generous hostess to the many international guests who came to our home through the Y and Rotary proved to have a very big influence on me, opening my eyes to the world. Still, it couldn’t have been easy to watch me choose distant Asia as the focus of my studies and work – a choice that would have me far away for long periods of time – and I am very grateful to you and Dad for never trying to hold me back.

To this day, I’m amazed that, as scared as you were of flying, that you got on that plane in the days before jumbo jets for the then 14-hour flight to Tokyo via Alaska, in order to visit me in Japan (and even more that you got into that small Cessna decades later with me as your pilot). How wonderful that your Japan trip turned out to be just the first on a growing list of international travel adventures we’ve had together! As we’ve learned, the world is really very small, and its every curve both connects us to everyone else on the planet and, just as surely, leads the heart home.

I am delighted that your eightieth birthday finds you healthy and happy and quite likely to celebrate many more birthdays. But I also trust that, no matter what, our bond is eternal.

With deepest love and gratitude,
Your daughter Debbi

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