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To my mom: We’re happy you were born!

By Tammy Keith

This article was published March 18, 2018 at 12:00 a.m.

My sweet momma’s birthday was March 15, and by the time you read this, we will have opened her presents, eaten every last morsel of chocolate cake, laughed and cried.

It’s hard to believe she’s already 70 — and that she’s just 70. My mom was always the youngest mother of all my friends, and the coolest. She was fun, and we grew up a lot like sisters. People used to ask if we were, until we both got so old, it was obvious that we weren’t.

We do a slide show in my family for milestone birthdays. And by we, I mean some of us dig through boxes to find photos, and my brother works on it for hours to make it happen.

My sister-in-law came up with a great idea this year, to create a scrapbook answering: Why We’re Happy Bonnie Was Born.

She contacted lots of mom’s friends through Facebook, and I added a few. Mom, a retired special-ed teacher, has different groups of friends, including her Friday Night Friends, book club, Bible study and random people she might meet in a grocery-store line and start exchanging Christmas cards with.

As of this writing, I’ve seen only a few of the many responses. One childhood friend of Mom’s from Piggott said, “I can’t imagine a world without Bonnie. I am 11 months older, and for most of the years when we were growing up, we lived only a few short blocks away. Bonnie has always been fun, smart and a good friend to so many, including me. She was a member of my family and even had her own pet name, ‘dinnertime Bonnie,’ from my brother John. My mom adored Bonnie, and we were so fortunate to have Mom’s ‘brown-haired daughter’ close by and loving and helping Mom so much. Being with me as we closed Mom’s house was a gift that I will never forget.”

Another friend said, in part, “To my beautiful friend, Bonnie … I love your fierce sense of justice and concern for all of God’s children.”

My husband offered this:

“Without Bonnie being born, Tammy wouldn’t have been born, and I probably still would be living alone in an upstairs apartment in Jonesboro and wearing out-of-style shoes. I am glad Bonnie was born because she is a kind and caring person who instilled those same values in her children. She welcomed me into her family — albeit with a ranking that falls somewhere behind that of her husband, children, grandsons and great-granddaughter, but I can live with that. She always has made me feel like I belong with the Smiths and has been supportive of what I needed, even when at times it was not what she would have preferred for herself. I know that I can count on her, depend on her and trust her. I know that she’s there for me.”

Here’s what I wrote, on deadline, of course, of just a few reasons why I’m glad Mom was born:

“The first and most obvious reason I’m glad Mom was born is because I wouldn’t be here; I wouldn’t have had two wonderful boys or the amazing experience of becoming a grandmother.

“I would not be the strong, assertive, do-it-right-the-first-time woman I am today, if not for her example.

“I’m happy Mom was born because, as a fearless

champion of underdogs, she has made a difference in other people’s lives — whether it was special-education students who needed extra help or an advocate to fight for their rights, or the homeless men, women and children who just needed someone to show them love.

“I think of all the people who have been able to enjoy her fiercely loyal friendship, funny personality and companionship on adventures, including me!

“No one is more proud of her family than Mom, and she made sure we got to do what our hearts desired, no matter what sacrifices she had to make.

“Because of her, our family is more successful, happier and stronger, not to mention well-ironed.

“Happy 70th birthday, Mom! I’m glad you’re mine.

“With all my respect and love,

“Your daughter.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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