Posted on 05.09.2012
Three years ago, my siblings and I put together a wonderful, two-day birthday celebration for our mother, Lee Vessie O’Neil. She was turning eighty years old. We celebrated her birthday not only honoring her, but also our deceased father, Rev. John C. O’Neil, because he was so much a part of her. Their marriage was exemplary and we felt that by honoring him, we would also be honoring our mother. Mother loved John. Talking about him still brings so much warmth, love and joy to her.
The celebration was two days in length. It was just like planning a wedding! We started out on a Friday night with a church program, which included a carefully put together video presentation that recounted my mother and father’s lives together as they raised us. There was also a choir of grandchildren and great-grandchildren assembled, who sang two songs. The program culminated with a concert done by the O’Neil children, with two grandchildren joining in as vocalists. Anyone who is familiar with my family knows that the band and the vocalists consisted of all O’Neil siblings. This event was followed by a birthday cake and punch reception. Her birthday cake was a three-tier cake that looked like a wedding cake. It was beautiful and fun. There were a lot of people there.
The second day of the celebration was marked by a wonderful brunch held at a nice banquet facility. The time was spent partaking of a lovely meal and visiting with people we have not seen in years. We, along with people who know our mother, told stories of the impact she has had on their lives. A few sang songs to her, and with tear-filled eyes, some people shared how much they loved her. There was much love flowing in that room that day. Everyone who attended was touched by the event. Again, there was no shortage of people.
My youngest sibling, JoAnn, even wrote a book about our family to honor Mother. It turned out to be an excellent read about our beginnings, while evoking laughter! I have heard many times over that our celebration inspired others to celebrate their mothers more.
What is it about a mother who commands such adoration, affection and love? What is it about a person who elicits such a large crowd of people to come from far and near to celebrate her birthday?
I will try to answer these questions:
Our mother has loved unconditionally and has always tried to accept people for who they are, no matter what. She gives grace to everyone and always tries to understand why people do what they do. She has always lived by “bouncing with the ball, and rolling with the punches.” She is a woman of faith. She believes with others for their hopes and dreams and supports others in their endeavors. She is pleasant and smiles “all the time.” She is nice. She serves and visits people who are ill, incapacitated or even dying. She loves others as herself. She is sweet and has learned how to be content. Our friends would usually end up calling her “Mother,” because they are comfortable with her. I can see why so many people were thrilled to part of her celebration. Our mother has been a blessing to us as she has lived her life authentically following Christ.
I just want to take the time to thank my Mother for all she has done for me. I thank her for her prayers. I thank her for being an example of a loving mother and wife. I thank her for being real in her living out her relationship with Christ.
Thank you, Mother! Happy Mother’s Day!