Honouring 90 Years!

How do you honour a woman who has lived for 90 years? That was the puzzle my siblings and I were trying to solve when we met in Iowa a few weeks ago to celebrate our mother’s 90th birthday.

My mom had requested a small family gathering so my sister and my brother and I flew in to prepare for the day. Each of us brought photos of our childhood. We thought it would be easier to share special memories with pictures that would start a conversation.

I took on the task of arranging the photos. In the evening in our hotel room I kept grouping them in various ways. I’d mumble to myself, “These were her younger years, wasn’t she a beauty! Look at this one. Remember when we were camping that summer and she read us Charlotte’s Web? Oh, my gosh, she made so many Halloween costumes over the years!”

I labored over how we were going to present the images. I was looking for a visual theme and time was a ticking. I needed help so I grouped a few together and asked my sister, what about this? I shifted them around and asked my brother, do you think this works?

Some of the photos were small and some were large, not necessarily reflecting the importance of the message. It felt like a big responsibility to find a way to honour her enough.

I remember the moment when my creativity sparked. I’ve got it! This is what we’re going to do!

I took the photos and had them all enlarged to 5 X 7 and mounted each one on it’s own 8X10 sheet of white paper and then I asked my brother and sister to help me chose one word that illuminated the role she played as a woman in each of the scenes.

Along with wife, daughter, mother and grandmother we came up with enthusiast, nurse, educator and glamour girl. We had 21 pictures and we named 21 roles she had played.

On the day of her party we sat together as she took her time viewing the photos. We shared our memories and a feeling of closeness. In the process we honoured a life well lived by acknowledging the breadth of wisdom, willingness and wildness that she shared with the world!

I love this photo that my brother took of my mom’s aged hands holding a photo of her in the blush of youth.

When you are planning a special celebration.

Begin by brainstorming ideas. Allow time for them to percolate. Ask for help. Keep it simple.

Aim for just enough structure to spark a connection and you’ll create an experience with a lasting memory.

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One Comment

  1. Deb
    Posted October 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    That’s sooo beautiful, Jovanna! You always find a way!!

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