Love and Memories, x70

Love and Memories, x70

Today is my mom’s birthday, one of those milestone-y ones that usually inspire fancy parties, but alas, Mom’s not a big fan of having birthday parties thrown for her. So not a fan, in fact, that I can still recall her emphatically telling Dad she’d divorce him if he threw her a 40th birthday party. I’m hoping that throwing her a virtual party — one where her family and friends share what they love about her and some favorite memories online — will not have a similarly dire outcome for me.

(In case it does, I’d like to take this opportunity to note that this was totally Eileen’s idea.)

Without further ado, here is a list of things we love and memories we have — one for every year so far, and hoping to add many more in the future. Happy birthday, Ma!


1-4, courtesy of Susie & Tony, friends/neighbors

M is for the very many, many, considerate, thoughtful, kindhearted, motherly, things that Mary will do for the Kollars and anybody that she encounters. You can always count on Mary.

A is for always knowing when the garbage and recycling should go out, darn those holidays when everyone forgets, but not Mary.

R is for really having the scoop on what goes on in the neighborhood!

Y is for always being so young at heart in mind, body and soul.

5. Who would have ever thought that they would be 70, but they were the best sisters you could ever have unless they were ganging up on you! — Fred, brother

6. Mary is my best girlfriend … she had no choice. — Fran, sister

We love that…

7. Even though I’ll be 40 next year, I’m still her baby. — Eileen, daughter

8. Aunt Mary calls me Suz sometimes 😉 — Susan, niece

9. Mary is always willing to help, and seems to know exactly what type of help is needed…a laugh, a break from the daily routine, or a little shopping therapy. — Jen, daughter-in-law

10. Dear Grandma, I like to play on the iPad with you in bed. love, Declan
10. Dear Grandma, I like to play on the iPad with you in bed. love, Declan

11. Aunt Mary makes the best roasted leg of lamb I have ever eaten. — Kate, niece

12. Mary is a warm and loving human being. — Nick, cousin

13. Mary buys me a new, big bottle of gin every time she visits. — Chris, son-in-law

14. Aunt Mary knows my whole life…and is sincerely interested in the life of my kids. — Susan

15. Grandma Mary will do the log chute with us! -- Jack, Scott, and Hugh, grand-nephews
15. Grandma Mary will do the log chute with us! — Jack, Scott, and Hugh, grand-nephews

16. Mary has always been a stellar hostess – have loved the many times we’ve spent at #26.  Good food, good times, good friends! — Bud and Maryann, friends

17. Even though I don’t see her much, I know that I can call and she will care — Susan

18. Her past care-giving was exemplary; now it shifts to care-taking! — Fran

19. Mary is able to go with the flow when it comes to family and friends. And even though Mary has plenty of opinions and priorities she can happily adjust to changes as well. — JoAnn, cousin

20. Dear Grandma, I love to play with Toby and you. I love going to the Discovery Center. love, Gavin
20. Dear Grandma, I love to play with Toby and you. I love going to the Discovery Center. love, Gavin

21. Aunt Mary tells me I’m being a good mom…no evidence required 😉 — Susan

22. Mary took care of Jim – maintaining his health and safety and his dignity, with loving care and sometimes, the velvet hammer.  — Bud and Maryann

23. Aunt Mary totally gets “zone defense” when it comes to parenting…and I really need that some days. — Kate

24. Mary is compassionate and a great friend. — Merina, friend

25. Mom is like a human recipe book, an excellent instructor, and  knows the answers to almost all cooking questions, whenever you call, text, or email. — Eileen & Sarah, daughters

26. WIth love from James.
26. With love from James.

27. Aunt Mary has helped me out through our miscarriages.  — Kate

28. Mom was a huge help throughout the 2013 holidays, when we needed an extra set of hands while Jen had to be away. — Brian, son

29. Grandma Mary is the only one who mails us LOTS of money! — Jack, Scott, and Hugh

30. Mary is the best neighbor and friend we could have.  — Susie and Tony, and Sherry, neighbors

31. Mom is totally willing to be silly. -- Sarah
31. Mom is totally willing to be silly. — Sarah

32. Aunt Mary gives real hugs…ones that say I miss you. — Susan

33. She’s independent. Aunt Mary did the yard work and house fix-its long before it was cool for ladies to do that. — Kate

34. Mary has an open and outgoing nature, or as she put it herself, when Bud (affectionately) suggested she was “mouthy” –  she corrected him – assertive, she said!  That’s Mary. — Maryann

35. Mary is great at letting you believe the winning point was actually your idea. — John, friend/former boss

36. Aunt Mary has been my clandestine partner in crime for years.  She helped me get a candle snuffer for my Mom one year as a present. — Kate

37. I like going to the Discovery Center and apple picking with you. (Declan)
37. I like going to the Discovery Center and apple picking with you. (Declan)

38. Aunt Mary is relaxed, forgiving, and has an amazing heart. — Kate

39. Mary is a very special person and we do have some funny memories in raising all you kids. Great times. — Sherry

40. Mom/Aunt Mary makes a perfect pie crust — Eileen and Kate

41. Mary calls it “packaging.”  I’ll bet she even looks fab with bed head, like I do. — Fran

42. I love playing at your house and playing with the notols. (Gavin)
42. I love playing at your house and playing with the notols. (Gavin)

(I’m told “notols” = noodles, and refers to the dried pasta he gets to pick up with his trucks at Grandma’s house.)

43. Aunt Mary is adventurous…hello Alaska! Not afraid to travel. — Kate
And has a burning desire to use her passport, as long as she has a fun traveling companion – even though she is unwilling to sleep overnight in an Opel Astra in God-knows-where Germany!  — Eileen

And some treasured memories…

44. So many fond childhood memories! I may be the only one who can remember your Mom and Aunt Fran when they were infants in a visit to Grandma Demer in Chicago. They weren’t more than a couple of months old and my Mom and I were there to visit Aunt Mary and her family. Fred was about 4, I think, so I was probably 5/6.  I loved playing with Fred and we would sneak in to see the babies as they laid in the crib together. We were quickly shooed away!  — Bonnie, cousin

45. We like dressing in identical outfits now and counting the morons who stop and ask:  are you twins? — Fran

46. Mom, who would never drive to NYC, was ready to make a midnight run to Kennedy Airport when I got stuck in a blackout after flying home solo from England on my first overseas trip – and was ready to hop a plane to South Africa (without a passport) when I got in a car wreck there on my summer study abroad in college — Eileen

47. One of my favorite memories — and one that shows both her cleverness and her sense of humor — is that Mom used to write a list of what we were getting for Christmas in secretarial shorthand and hang it on the fridge. We couldn’t read it, so there was no way of knowing of it was the real list or not, but it tormented us anyway. — Sarah

Family picture, c. 1976.
Family picture, c. 1976.

48. When Mary and Fran got mad at each other as teenagers, mostly over clothes, they would put tape down the middle their shared bedroom and wouldn’t allow either to cross the line. — Jimmy, brother

49. There’s nothing like Mary at the top of the stairs slightly past curfew spitting “you’re not in England anymore” to get the point that maybe your social life needs to be…a little less social. — Eileen

50. I smile when I remember the Heffern Family vacation and Mary was snapping zillions of photos of the Oregon coast, when your Dad had enough of it and roared:  “Mary, is there anything you haven’t shot?”  She replied:  “YES, YOU!” — Fran

Summer snowball fight, Oregon, c. 1982
Summer snowball fight, Oregon, c. 1982

51. We loved it when your mom would yell out the bedroom window at around 10pm telling us to stop playing basketball in the driveway. — Scott, neighbor

52. While Mom was out, a bunch of us were wrestling in the living room and Mom’s huge plant was destroyed when someone landed on a box fan pushing it into said plant. We tried to put it back together. All Mom could say was, “You tried to glue it back together? Are you serious?” — Brian

53. When we were 17, we took the Binghamton city bus to town to shop for new winter coats.  We went in opposite directions.  Met up later and had purchased the same coat in different colors; don’t remember who lost the toss and went back to find another coat. — Fran

54. Mom scurrying up the stairs ahead of Brian, wheeling around and getting right in his face, saying, “you may be taller than me, but I’m still Your Mother!” I love this because I fully expect to be doing the same thing by the time James is 12. — Eileen

Family picture, 2010.
Family picture, 2010.

55. I remember getting into an argument with Mom & Dad about my curfew when I was about 17, one in which I was pushing aggressively to have the same curfew Brian had at my age. I was totally, totally losing, until in response to one of my “Why’s?” Dad said, “Because he’s a boy.” I’ve never seen my mom pivot so quickly — and within minutes, I had my desired curfew extension and was out the door. Don’t tell my Mom that girls and boys don’t get treated the same! — Sarah

56. When Mary and Jim were dating, Jim brought home a friend from college to set Fran up with on a blind date, the guy’s name was Bentley Brown Bixby the III, a real nerd and he was packing a concealed weapon. I thought Fran was going to kill Jim. — Jimmy

57. When I was in high school and everyone was taking typing classes, my mom — who spent her career as a legal secretary — was adamant that I not enroll. “No daughter of mine is going to be a secretary!” she told me. I knew then that she saw limitless opportunities for me… But not that I’d end up making my career one that involves computers. — Sarah

58. I will always remember the first day we were working on this house before we had moved in.  As we stood in the kitchen preparing to start painting and making #24 into something livable – there was a knock at the door and there was Mary with homemade blueberry muffins and hot coffee.  That was just the start of our wonderful relationship.  Even this morning after finally finishing our remodel project, over came Mary with a homemade lemon poppy seed bread – very delicious I might add; because she knew I wouldn’t be baking anytime soon. — Susie and Tony

59. My all-time favorite Mary and Fran story is when the girls pooled their money and bought a brand new VW bug. It was red with a sun roof. The car didn’t have even 100 miles on it when they go out to pick up one of their girlfriends in Vestal, Fran was backing out of the girl’s driveway and backs up on a real sharp curb and proceeds to flatten both left side tires. They didn’t care about the flat but they had to call our dad to get help, as they only had one spare.  — Jimmy

60. Over the years she’s welcomed more friends into our house than I can count, and especially when things were rough. I remember a couple of times as friends were struggling with coming out, she’d say “Tell them if their families don’t want them to come home for the holidays, they can come here.” And she meant it. — Sarah

Mom and her boys: Gavin, Declan, and Toby.
Mom and her boys: Gavin, Declan, and Toby.

61. Before Toby, Aunt Mary let my two dogs spend the night inside her house on a freakishly hot summer night just over 11 years ago.  — Kate

62. Mary and I are awesome shoppers! Seem to love the same stores and similar things so we have a great time shopping.  Of course, after buying ourselves treats, we must sit down and have lunch!   Makes for a fun afternoon.  — Sherry

63. When driving to Rochester, despite all she had on her plate, Aunt Mary still stopped by our house (with Uncle Jim). One particular time, they brought the infamous Yankees outfit which still makes us smile. — Kate

64. I have lots of special memories over the years of a wonderful wife, Mum, Grandma, gardener, cook, home decorator, friend and hostess Mary is.  Every visit has always been full of fun and stories and the best meals imaginable and at the end we wonder at how she does it all. — Sally, friend

65. One of my favorite memories is sipping mimosas on Mary’s new front porch on the first work day of her retirement. — Jen

66. I still have a short note from her praising me for keeping such a CLEAN BEDROOM (words a preteen rarely hears from parents). — Kate

67. Aunt Mary used to let us get measured on the basement doorframe along with Brian, Sarah, and Eileen. I especially loved this back when I towered over all of you 🙂 — Kate

Jimmy, Fran, Mom, and Fred, c. 1990.
Jimmy, Fran, Mom, and Fred, c. 1990.

68. As for the younger generation, we Morgans have been happy to spend time here and there with you all, which Mary and Jim initiated so many years ago with invitations to get together.  Now we enjoy seeing snippets of your lives via Facebook.  Mary is the delightful centre of so many good things and we send our love for her very special birthday. — The Morgan Family, friends

69. Who can forget the most hilarious pasta dinner…ever!  Brian, “Please Mom – I’ll explain it to you after dinner,” to which Mom replied, “No Brian, explain it to me NOW.” And I did… — Brian

70. I’ll never forget the long girls weekend I spent with Mom and Aunt Anne in Baltimore where they split a LARGE bottle of sherry one night and proceeded to ask me to explain things to them no daughter should be asked! — Eileen

And one to grow on…

courtesy of Merina:

Faithful, kind and always true
Reassuring through and through
Insightful in your wise advice
Enthusiastic, sweet and nice
Noted for your Irish-loving face
Dear friend, no one could take your place

Happiest of birthday wishes to you, Mom/Mary! We all love you very much.

And, of course, happy birthday and lots of love to your lifelong partner in crime, Fran.

Mary & Fran, 9 months
Mary & Fran, 9 months

4 thoughts on “Love and Memories, x70

  1. maryann November 11, 2013 / 9:53 am

    Wonderful job Sarah and Eileen!! A gift money can not buy. Love you both.

  2. Mom November 11, 2013 / 10:29 am

    I am OVERWHELMED and nearly speechless (imagine that, Bud!). THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH (and particularly Sarah & Eileen, for putting this together. Indeed, a gift money cannot buy. Never, ever thought some of the things I said (or did) would be so remembered or memorialized. I have been very, very blessed with such a wonderful family and friends. And, now I want to go back and read this again…slower… I am feeling so loved and send love in return.

  3. Fran November 11, 2013 / 10:32 am

    Eileen and Sarah,
    Sarah and Eileen,
    What a d.e.l.i.g.h.t.f.u.l birthday gift. Your Mom & Dad certainly passed on love, kindness, wit and cleverness to you both. I’m so proud to be your Auntie. Thank you for this treasure. With love, Fran

  4. jennasauber November 11, 2013 / 10:11 pm

    What a wonderful way to celebrate your mother! Great idea. I loved reading them all.

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