Thursday, January 18, 2018

First Birthday in Heaven


Today is my mom's birthday.

In my memory, she is frozen in time.

Vibrant.

Laughing.

Joyful.

Alive.

In my first motherless birthday post from September, I described some of the birthday memories my mom and I shared over the years. One of my favorites was from her 60th birthday where I surprised her with a birthday brunch at The Jefferson Hotel. Her radiant smile and infectious joy is what I miss most from that day.


In this year of firsts without her, each day is a reminder:

Time is short.

Small acts matter. 

Life goes on. 

Today I wanted to put a little joy in this world by doing a few acts of kindness to celebrate my mom's special day. We had an unexpected day off school - the sixth snow day this month - so I decided to make a quick run to the grocery store up the road and sprinkle some kindness while I could.

My first stop was the little Starbucks kiosk where I asked the barista if I could buy a drink to be given to the next stranger who ordered one. He looked at me a bit perplexed, so I glanced at his name tag and tried again.

"Hi Eric. I'm doing small acts of kindness to celebrate my mom's birthday today. She passed away last year, but I wanted to add some joy to the world in memory of her, so I wanted to buy a stranger's drink. Can you help me with that?"

Another barista named Keayanna overheard our conversation and shared her experience with acts of kindness.

"Somebody did that for me once. It completely changed my day."

Eric was still a bit skeptical, but I persisted, determined to make someone else's day brighter. "What's in it for you? Are you sure you don't want to order something for yourself?" At this point, I was laughing. I couldn't wait for him to experience the joy of playing a role in someone else's kindness surprise.

He rang up my purchase and handed me the receipt which I taped to the back of my handwritten note. I passed the note back to Eric and said, "Just give this to the next person who orders a drink and let them know it's free!"

I walked away empty-handed, but filled with joy.

My free coffee note

Eric and Keayanna at the Rutland Kroger sharing kindness with others.
My next stop was the bakery. What's a birthday celebration without cake? I saw a woman at the counter placing a cake in her cart and without hesitation I went up to her and introduced myself.

"Hi. My name is Tamara and I'm doing acts of kindness in celebration of my mom's birthday today. Since she passed away last year, I can't buy her a cake... would it be OK if I blessed you instead by purchasing the cake in your basket?"

The woman looked back at me in surprise then said, "Are you sure? That is so nice of you!" 

I walked with her to the checkout line as she shared with me that her husband had lost a parent this past November. "It's too fresh to really talk about it..." and no more words were needed. She shared that her husband, Jimmy, was having a tough time today with it being his first birthday without his mom. I knew exactly how he felt.

It was obvious that she and Jimmy needed this act of kindness today.

And what joy! Jimmy and my mom share the same birthday and Jimmy shares the same name as my grandfather. Some coincidence, huh?

I paid for her cake, returned it to her cart, then we went our separate ways. My heart was lifted yet again.

The birthday cake for Jimmy

Purchasing Jimmy's cake with my handwritten note
The remainder of my trip to the store was leaving little surprises for others to discover. What kinds of things would I have bought my mom on her special day? 

Ice cream treat.

Nutter Butter cookies.

Flowers.

For each item, I included enough money to purchase the items with more handwritten notes attached. It brought me such joy to imagine how my mom would squeal with surprise had she discovered such acts of kindness during a mundane chore of grocery shopping.

"What would you do for a Klondike bar?"

My surprise hidden in the frozen foods section of the store.

Doesn't cost much to make someone smile! (Yes, I included change for tax, too!)

Maybe a child will find this one! (Hopefully not a child with a peanut allergy!)

My mom always loved flowers, big and small.
As I finished up my grocery shopping and headed to the self-checkout lane, I had to laugh when I saw the number above:


Of course. 

Today is January 18. 

My mom's first birthday in heaven.

Happy birthday, Mama.

My last birthday celebration with my mom - January 18, 2017

So much birthday love! Mom and Bob - January 18, 2017





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