Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

Last weekend I was in New York, where we had an 80th birthday celebration for my mom. Family and friends gathered at a charming restaurant near my parents’ home, and there everyone sipped hot cider (well, not me – I was busy taking photos) and visited until lunch was served. I got to help Mom get ready for the big day; due to her memory impairment, it’s not so easy for her to put together a festive ensemble (though who among us, regardless of memory issues, has not experienced similar difficulties?). She looked pretty swell!

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My sisters – who do these things especially well – coordinated all the details, and everything went without a hitch. It’s not often you can get all three of us girls into a single photo, but here we are with Mom:

The Iselin Girls 2009

Rather than try to fit 80 candles on top of that delicious-looking cake, we went for the “Less is more” approach with the numbers “8,” “0,” and a few stars for good measure. Good thing Mom did NOT have to blow out 80 candles; as it happened, she had a dizzy spell after blowing out the ones you see here… and that’s all I’m going to say about it. Except that the title of this post may suggest what came next. No, not an assassination – just an unanticipated, hasty end to the festivities. But Mom is fine now, and, in fact, has forgotten all about it – her birthday, the cake, etc. So it’s a really good thing we have photos, and that everybody else will remember the occasion for her. Happy birthday, Mom!

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Here’s the toast I made in her honor:

When we were little, we loved to watch Mom get dressed up for an evening out with Dad. She was a beauty then, and she still has style and grace to spare. With her artist’s eye and sensibility, she has always believed that “less is more” except where her affection is concerned, and that is when “more” has always been better.

She appreciates all forms of beauty, whether inside a muesum or outside in nature, and has taught others to appreciate it as well. A free spirit, she has always experimented with her creativity, willingly tries new things, and greets life with open curiosity, with a “yes” or a “why not?”

Early on, she shared her love of reading and language with her daughters, beginning with our family tradition of Saturday morning trips to the public library, and continuing with crossword puzzles and competitive games of Scrabble.

Mom has always been a loving mother and a wonderful grandmother as well. From hand-painted birthday cards to her eagerly awaited “face cookies,” she has always known how to make each of her three grandchildren feel special and loved.

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Here’s to you on your 80th birthday, Mom. We love you.

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