Wednesday, October 9, 2013

70 things

I should warn you. This is going to be a crazy post. Because TODAY is my mum's birthday AND I'M CELEBRATING!! This amazing woman is 70. SEVENTY!
And because I can think of no better way to honor her, I'm going to list 70 interesting facts about her. Are you ready?

70. Her first name is Bessie. I can even sing a song called "Bessie the heifer," but she's really not a fan of it.

69. Her middle name is Angeline. She really is one of the "angels"

68. Her maiden name is Hopkins. No relation to the Hopkins who signed the Declaration of Independence. I checked.

67. She was born on October 9th, 1943 in a house just 2 doors down from where she currently lives. Gas was 15 cents a gallon.

66. Mum nearly didn't survive her own birth. The doctor told grandma Nora the baby was "stuck," and that either she or the baby wouldn't make it. My grandpa Victor insisted that Nora live. Miraculously, they both did.

65. When Bessie was just a couple of months old, she came down with a severe case of whooping cough. Again, the doctor warned my Grandma Nora it would probably be fatal. He wanted to try a new drug, but was concerned that it hadn't been used that much on such young babies. The drug was Penicillin. And it worked.

64. Bessie is the youngest of 5 girls, (the others are Evadne, Winnifred, Susan and Marjorie) and often pouted when she had to wear hand-me-downs. There is pictorial proof of this!

63. When she was a little girl, she had a pet rabbit. One evening, she learned her rabbit was being served for supper. This did not end well. For her or the rabbit.

62. When she was a little girl, she decided that she would one day have twins. (This will become important later in the list.)

61. Bessie was in the marching band, and played saxophone.

60. She always thought she was chubby growing up, but would have been about a size 10 by today's standards.

59. Bessie's dad (my grandpa Victor) died when she was in high school. Mum has told me I am the only person she knows who has hair as black as his.
 58. Her mother (Nora) was an elementary school teacher, so mum didn't get away with much in school

57. She grew up in, and still attends the Edgerton United Methodist Church.

56. After graduating high school, she attended nursing school in Ft. Wayne Indiana.

55. The only time she has not lived in the village of Edgerton was when she attended nursing school.

54. Bessie met my dad, Lannie Wright at a fair.

53. While mum & dad were planning a huge wedding for June 1965, my dad got his draft notice. At the time, if you were married, you could get a reprieve from being drafted. They secretly married on March 3rd, 1965, and had their large church wedding on June 6th, 1965.

52. Mum gave birth to her first child (me!) on December 19th, 1965. You do the math :-)

51. Mum gave birth to twins Curtis Jay and Leslie Kay on April 25th, 1968. There were no twins on either side of the family. Proving that my mum is the most stubborn person on the planet.

50. In the mid-1970's, Bessie was one of a small group of people who began the volunteer EMS in Edgerton Ohio. She volunteered with the EMS through the 1990's.

49. On June 17th, 1977, Mum gave birth to her 4th child. He is the only child to be given a family name. His middle name is Victor.
48. Mum always made birthdays incredibly special. She made our favorite foods, elaborately decorated cakes, and we always got out of chores for the day.

47. She also knew how to make every holiday fun. I remember on St. Patrick's Day, we drank green milk and ate green mashed potatoes. Valentine's Day lunches always contained a heart shaped sandwich and supper was heart shaped pizza.

46. Bessie is left handed, which made it impossible for her to teach me to sew.

45. Mum is a very talented cake decorator, and makes the most beautiful icing roses. She would make dozens of delicate icing flowers, and then store them in the freezer until she needed them. Some of her kids (who were jerks) would raid the freezer for these delicious decorations. The freezer was kept locked for most of my childhood.

44. Her favorite swear is "Well, horseshit!"

43. In the late 70's, she had hair longer than her waist. She had it all cut off, and for years, that hair was kept in a box in her closet.

42. Around 1990, mum had an in-ground pool installed. It has a deep-end. Mum didn't know how to swim, so she started swimming lessons when she was in her mid-40's.

43. Within a year, she was diving from the diving board!

42. When we were in high school, mum came to every single event we were involved in. She didn't just come to one night of the musical - she bought tickets for every single night of the musical. I can't believe she still has her sanity.

41. She even came all the way to Eau Claire WI, to see a show I had 3 lines in.

40. Mum was a nurse for over 30 years, most spent working in nursing homes.

39. Occasionally, mum would have a favorite resident at the nursing home, and she would invite them to outings like parades or dinner.

38. Whenever she wrote notes for us kids, she used nurses shorthand, and she always signed them with bubbly-drawn lips.

37. Mum started me in baton lessons when I was 2 1/2. I won my first twirling trophy on her birthday in 1970.

36. Mum would sit with me while I practiced my baton routines. She had each routine tediously written out and would check to make sure I did every trick perfectly.

35. She made most of my sister and my twirling costumes.

34. Bessie's celebrity crush is Tom Selleck. Or David Caruso. Don't make her choose!

33. In 1998, Mum had an aneurysm burst in her brain. She underwent brain surgery where she had 2 metal clips implanted to protect the brain from further injury. A mere 3 months later, she returned to work as a nurse.

32. As broken hearted as Mum was after she and my dad divorced, she never talked bad about him to us kids.

31. She is a voracious reader. I was finally able to teach her how to order library books online, and she has piles of books waiting to read.

30. Mum's house is very popular at Halloween, because she hands out her homemade cookies.

29. Mum once completely changed her clothes while in the passenger seat of my car as we sped through New Mexico.

28. Whether mild or tragic, if something goes wrong you can count on mum to remind you that "It will be alright!"

27. Mum religiously does water aerobics 3-5 days a week. She credits this to not feeling her age.

26. Bessie served on the Edgerton Village Council for many years, including serving in the role of Council President.

25. She has also received the Edgerton Citizenship award.

24. She has survived 2 different cases of pulmonary embolism.

23. About 10 years ago, mum was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. She continued to work through both chemo and radiation. She was as beautiful bald as she is with hair. And she beat the damn cancer.

24. She also beat bladder cancer!

23. Bessie is a very talented sewer. She made many of our clothes when we were young, and is frequently busy repairing and altering clothing for her grandkids.

22. Bessie has 8 grandkids and 2 grandcats.

21. When they were young, she would have all the grandkids over for slumber parties. Most of them ended up in bed with her by morning.

20. Bessie is most known for cookies. She bakes and sells them through the year, but takes orders months in advance for Christmas cookies. This passion really took off once she retired from nursing in 2008.

19. She makes 24 different kinds of cookies for her Christmas cookie trays.

18. Every year, she delivers cookies to all of her neighbors.

17. She also cans some pretty incredible salsa and pizza sauce.

16. Because she worked 3rd shift as a nurse for 30+ years, her sleep patterns are wonky. She has been known to bake cookies at 3am, while in her pajamas.

15. Mum individually wraps each cookie she bakes. This way, cookies stay fresh tasting after being frozen and they keep their intended texture when mixed on a tray.

14. She starts baking for the Christmas season in August. She fills 3 freezers full of her delicious cookies.

13. Mum broke her left humerus 2 years ago. I'm not supposed to tell the story of how she broke it, but it's pretty funny. (It may or may not have involved her trying to get people to laugh at her silliness as she hopped around in slippers while volunteering at the free clothing store.)

12. Her favorite movie is "Dirty Dancing" - and she still hasn't gotten over Patrick Swayze's death.

11. Naps are her favorite time of day.

10. She thinks ugly Christmas sweaters are really pretty.

9. Bessie's favorite TV shows are CSI, NCIS and Dancing With the Stars. Do NOT call her when DWTS is on as it will make her very angry!

8.  Mum's Christian faith is very important to her. Her beliefs are deeply seated, though she is very humble about them.

7. She has a smile that starts in her eyes.

6. Her hugs are soul satisfying - she rarely lets-go first.

5. Bessie is generous - with her time, her talent for listening, with her plates of cookies and help wherever it's needed. She is always giving in some way - to her family, her church, her community. She once even cooked dinner for my forensics team when we were driving through on our way to a national tournament!

4. She is incredibly open minded. Even if she doesn't agree with you, she will listen to your viewpoint and carefully consider it.

3. She is supportive. Even if she thinks you are making the dumbest or craziest choice, she will support you in whatever way she can.

2. She is stunningly beautiful.

1. She is one of the bravest people on the planet. I'm pretty sure she has a super-hero cape hidden between her shoulder blades.

Happy Birthday, mum. I thank God that He gave me to you. You are the reason I can laugh really hard even in the most ridiculous of situations. You are the reason I know it takes bravery to get through the tough situations. And you are the reason I learned to listen in the quiet situations. But most importantly, you taught me to embrace the world with an open heart.


  1. Awww... this is very nice indeed.

  2. Well, now I want a cookie

  3. This is soooooo beautiful, KJ! You are both fortunate to have each other.