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You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby…


mom as young girl

My mother just turned 80, and the family was together to celebrate not only the milestone but the lovely woman who wears it so well.  For clarification, of the two dolls in the above photograph, my mother is the one on the right. Born to a Lebanese father and German mother in a Midwest Mayberry, Mom’s family life was spirited to say the least, a home chockablock with family, friends, food, hospitality and lively conversation.

She may have left the Victorian on tree-lined street to marry my father, but the love and warmth of her childhood has followed her throughout her life.  As her father told her, she told me, “Always fill a guest’s coffee or tea cup, anything less would suggest they’re not welcome.”

What does turning eighty mean? As a witness to the last 5o or so years of my mother’s life, I see it as an evolving study of how one person can touch many lives. My Mom’s a giver not a taker, an optimist not an Eeyore, an action verb on a page of pronouns, a doer in a world of couch potatoes.

vintage photo of Mom, Me and Linda

Her road has been bumpy, smooth, adventurous, lonely at times, and life-threatening at others; and despite it all she rarely thinks of herself.  To paraphrase Frank Lloyd Wright,  for her, youth is a quality, not a matter of her circumstances.

When I was away at college, my Mother made sure I always had my favorite cake on my birthday. Well before the advent of packing peanuts, she would pop some of Orville Redenbacher’s finest, and pack it gently around a cellophane-wrapped, frozen homemade German Chocolate cake.  It arrived with nary a crumb or pecan out of place, and rarely lasted a day.

As I explore meaning in my life and asked the big questions, I look to my mother as a example of what to do right. She lives her faith, never does anything halfway, tries new things, embraces those around her and treats life as a gift.

I fear that no matter how hard my Father, brother, sister and I try to find the perfect gift for my mother each year, the offering never compares to the gifts she’s gives us every day.

You must a been a beautiful baby, ’cause baby won’t you look at you now.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

PS: On my flight home, I opened up my carry-on to retrieve a book. There among a tangle of cords, I found some tasty stowaways, a zip-lock bag of homemade goodies . Mom and love strike again (and at any age).


  1. Tom,
    That just makes me cry because you are the sweetest man ever and if I can have my son feel like that about me one day, then I have succeeded in doing my job. I’m so glad you were able to go home and have a wonderful celebration with your family.
    Lucky boy , love you and what a lovely story !xoxox

  2. Que hermoso! When oneself is in the middle of the road of our life and still can call home to that wisdom of mother the Lord gave us, is a blessing.
    What a sweet post about your good looking mother.


    PS. Sorry, my english is not that good. 🙂

  3. I was so touched by this article about your mother Tom! I hope that my son feels that way about me and what a gift if he could express it as well as you just have!
    sound like your mom got the Lebanese hospitality in her (and warmth) and the German productivity from her maternal side: a perfect combo if you ask me! (funny ’cause I was coming here to ask you how in the world you knew about sfeeha and fatayer and kibbe!); now I have got the answer!!

  4. What a tribute and I was going to say what a lucky mom to have such a nice son, but there is no luck in it. She taught you well. You’ve got a great family Tom, I feel lucky to have met them.

  5. Everyone should know that they are so loved, so relevant. The popular thing to do these days is to run parents down, tell the world why you got a bad start in life and how all your problems can be traced back to bad parents…..who really were doing the best they could with the tools that they had. You sir, have shot up multiple notches on my respect-o-meter.

  6. Look at that smile — it looks well-practiced — no, perfected! How lucky you are to have your mom still in your life, and what a lovely tribute to her. I haven’t met you in person, but I feel you must be a warm, caring person — and a credit to this wonderful woman. Thanks for sharing, and give an extra hug to your mum.

  7. What a wonderful milestone. Honestly, if you were to ask her about what your father, brother, sister and you try to find her each year, in the realm of a perfect gift, I’m sure she’d say she already has all the perfect gifts she’d ever want. Age aside, your mother looks absolutely beautiful, and I’m sure, that any goodies she packed in a care package of tasty treats for your flight home, would far exceed anything any of us could hope to find at the bottom of our bags. You have a true treasure there Tom, savor her, we should all be so blessed!

  8. A beautiful tribute to your lovely Mom on her special day! She certainly did right by you Tom. You are proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  9. What a great joy it is to read such accolades. This post made me smile and cry. Moms are so special. I miss mine very much, but like you carry her with me everyday……..Blessings….

  10. Happy Birthday and thank you Tommy’s Mommy! Of coure, your Mom is a woman of strength, beauty and love of life. She brought you to us. Love you. xo

  11. Tom, lacking your beautiful writing skills, I have but one thing to say to your mom.

    Maxine, you rock.
    Thank you for raising a best friend for me.



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