Living

Mondays with Mom: A Birthday with Friends

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I just finished reading the account of Mom’s birthday from last year that I wrote in Mondays with Mom. Click here if you would like to read it. So much has happened to change her world since then. Although caregiving has become more difficult, I am so grateful to have another year with Mom.

Tomorrow she turns 89. This year’s birthday is extra special because Jimmy and Gale Winn are here. They live in Texas and made the trip just to celebrate with Mom and Dad. The two couples have been friends for over 50 years.

When my parents went to Turkey, Gale was working at the education office on base. My brothers and sister would pass her room on the way to the library. They introduced themselves and said that they had just moved. Gale made chocolate chip cookies and took them over to meet Mom.

Later, she and Mom started a Girls in Action group together at the chapel on base. They ordered all the material and started the Baptist missions group for girls there. The Winns and the Bunns made a trip to the Holy Land. The Winns also cared for my older siblings while Mom and Dad made a trip to Germany and took care of them the day I was born.

Although caregiving has become more difficult, I am so grateful to have another year with Mom.

It was fun to listen to them reminisce. Dad and Gale shared about those years in Turkey. Dad said, “Together with another friend, Sgt. Woodworth, we (he and Jimmy) went snorkeling in the Black Sea and shot fish. One time we went out and Jimmy shot a moray eel. It went wild. It dragged Jimmy all over the place before he got the barbs out.

“Another time we went camping with Ruth, Gale, Alan, Carla, and John. To get to the beach, we had to ride around the cliffs in a raft. The wives and kids set up camp. Jimmy and I caught and cooked the fish. We also caught an octopus. Carla cleaned it by beating it against a rock. We cooked it and tried to eat it. We chewed and chewed but it was just like rubber. I think that was the night we saw the Sputnik satellite go across the sky.”

“The teacher for the couples’ Sunday school class left and I offered to teach it if I could get Southern Baptist literature. We also started an evening service with a fifth Sunday potluck. One of the men gave me the leg of a boar he’d killed. I cooked the leg with barbeque sauce for the potluck. Everyone thought it was delicious. Gail had eaten a few bites but then threw it down when she found out it was boar meat! Do you remember that?”

“Oh, yes,” she said.

There’s an ease when you’ve known someone a long time. Many people might not have handled the current situation with Mom well. Jimmy and Gale had no problem accommodating the new “normal” and were comfortable with Mom and Dad and the caregivers.

In the years since they left Turkey, they’ve seen each other every year or two. They would meet at their homes or a timeshare to spend the week together. It’s remarkable how many stories they have to share. It was precious to watch them and listen to their banter.

May we all be blessed with lifelong friends who visit us on our 89th birthday.

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