Saturday, July 2, 2016

Milestones ~ Part Two

Truly few meet the milestone of reaching 100 years old.
So when one does, that is an event that deserves to be well celebrated.

My mother reached that milestone on May 29, 2016.
As a family, many of us celebrated with her on different occasions for nearly a month.
On June 25, 2016,
all of my mother's children,
and most of her great-grandchildren gathered to throw her a
fabulous festivity
full of
and fun!

Many memories were shared.
And even more precious memories were made.
Stories of family, the fun we had, and the faith we've shared were exchanged.

This milestone of my mother's one hundredth year was a milestone for us all.

I dare say none of us will ever forget the pride we felt for our much loved matriarch as she so graciously greeted friends and family from her chair beneath the shade of the globe willow my father planted so many years ago.

No queen on her throne could have been given more honor or love that she was shown that day.
This space, the home, the yard, have been under her domain for 43 years.
She has planted every tree, vine, rose bush, shrub, and flower that flourished beneath her care.
She nurtured this place of beauty that my father provided for her.
Where tables now stood for birthday guests, she once had a huge vegetable garden.

This place is home to us all.
The grandchildren will always carry a sense of home associated with this place.

What a blessing it was for all of us to gather in this place to honor the one who has shown us how to live life,
one hundred years of life,
in a way that builds community, family, and faith.

She is
the charming gardener who makes our souls bloom. ~ Mareel Proust

Pablo Picasso said,
Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist when he grows up.

In so many ways, my mother remains a young girl at heart.
This was never more evident during the birthday celebration then it was when the firemen with Engine No. 5 showed up with fire engine sirens blaring.
She was like a young child sparked with excitement when she heard her firemen coming.
She literally jumped up with joy.

I couldn't help but think of the irony of their visit when I mused over the events of my mother's life.
Mother's life has been marked by fire on more than one occasion.

When she was only about five years of age,
no firemen came
when she watched her home and all of her family possessions burn to the ground
on a cold winter morning
in 1921
in Woodland Park, Colorado.

Her family lost everything except
their lives,
their determination to build again.

My mother's pioneer spirit that she learned from her homesteader mother lives on in her today.
She just gets up each day and makes do with what she has and lives her life with hard work, ingenuity,  grace, dignity, intelligence, wit, good humor, charm, determination, and independence.
She leans on her God,
and by His Grace she lives by faith.

She says,
"I'm here not because of anything I've done, but because God has kept me here
and provided all that I need."

Here is her story through her own words.
This poem written by my mother was first penned twenty-three years ago.  She's added to it over the years.

Where Can All Those Years Have Gone?

Seventy-seven years I've been on this earth.
It's been a long time since the day of birth.

Where is the girl with dark curls so long?

The days of fun and games and song?
Where can all of those days gone?

Where are the days of school and boys?
I'd put aside all childhood toys.
Where are the days when the jobs came along
To pay for the things for which I did long?
Where can all those days have gone?  

Where are the days of dates and dreams?
Hours spent together in heaven, it seems,
With that special one that came along.
We both worked late, the nights were long.
Where can all those nights have gone?

We had a car but not much money.
We were man and wife and life seemed sunny.

We found then, we'd be three before long.

Mom died that year, but life went on.
Where can all those years have gone? 

We had a blue eyed baby boy, so sweet.
Bill worked two jobs to make ends meet.
Pop lived with us. We bought a house with a lawn.
Pretty soon a little Sally came along.
Where can all those years have gone?

The world was at war and Bill had to go.
Pop died.  I knew I'd miss him so.
Now just Rell, Sally and me.  I had to be strong.
But somehow life had lost its song.
Where can all those years have gone?

The happy day when Bill came home
I knew I'd no longer be alone.

His job was waiting; the children grew strong.
Then, baby Carol came along.
Where can all those years have gone?

There we five of us in that little house.
There wasn't room for even a mouse.
We remodeled the house - never did get it done.
Then, Suzanne is born when I'm forty-one.
Where can all those years have gone?

The moves started coming when Suzanne was two,
to Pueblo, Leadville, and Utah.  Boy that was new.
Our lives are quite changed by the people we've known,
by the places we've lived and the things we have done.
Where can all those year have gone?

Our kids go married.  We had grandkids and great.
We live in Grand Junction, in the west part of the state.

We've grown old together.  Done some right things, some wrong.
But, Lord, we're so thankful that thru the years we've not been alone,
that You've been along.
By Alberta G. French
July 1993

Now, here I am ninety years old
And there's still more story to be told.
The family kept growing with weddings and birth.
All through the years we said to each other
"When can we sit and just recover?"
Finally, we sat on the porch, each in our own chair
And looked at sunsets beyond compare.
One day God said to Bill, "come home."
So now I look at them all alone.
But, I'm not alone.  God is so near.
And friends and family are all so dear.
To God be the Glory is my song.
But where can all the years have gone?

Alberta G. French
May 29, 2006

Today is the 100th year of my birth.
The day I came to this old earth.

The days of fun and dolls and making mud pies,
The days of friends, both girls and guys,
Where can all of those days have gone?
I met Bill and married him.
Had children four.
Didn't want any more.
One day we moved out west.
Those days turned out to be the best.
Then one day God said to Bill "come home."
And some day soon He'll take me by the hand and say,
"Alberta, come along."
And then we'll no more have to wonder,
Where can all those years have gone?
Alberta G. French
May, 2016

No matter how much longer she lives,
I will never be able to think of my mother as old.
I worried about her on the day of her party.
She sat in her chair and visited with friends and family from early in the day until late into the night.

I kept asking,
"Are you drinking enough water?"
She'd look at me with that stop being so nosey look
 and nod at the ice tea she'd been sipping all afternoon.
"That's not enough water, Mother."
I once said, "I think you need to go inside for a bit."
"Why?" was her response.
"It's hot.  You look tired.  It's been a long day."
I got nowhere.
She wasn't leaving her party.

She bid the firemen goodbye with a wave and a smile mid afternoon.

She was moved from her position under the willow to the other side of the yard where we would eat dinner under the apple tree.

I couldn't help but think of a photo from long ago under that same tree.
Who could have known we would gather again so many years later to laugh and dance and play under that apple tree?

The kids were actually decided to reenact a photo they took under another tree many years ago.  Grandpa and Julie are were sadly missed when the new photo was taken, but all the rest were there.

Throughout the evening, we danced, we laughed, we passed a candle to tell of our wishes for mother and for our family.

We made many happy memories.
Mother stood to give us a few words and to thank us for her party.

I must admit that I had eyes filled with tears.
I am sure I was not alone when I listened to her in awe.
I thought to myself how blessed we all are by her life and legacy.
I worried a bit about the party being too much for her, but then I thought,
"There she is with a bit of chocolate on her white pants, 
a smile on her face, 
speaking with wisdom, strength, and competency,
completely cogent,
adding a bit of wit to her words,
surrounded by a loving and adoring family."
 How could anyone ask for more than having a day like this  after living
36,500 days of life?

Wait there is more.
The day ended with a bang.
There were fireworks!

Mother's 100th birthday was celebrated well.
Very well.


  1. This is a beautiful post. Your mother's poem is wonderful. She is a role-model to everyone and a very special lady.

  2. Moved to tears.
    Thank you for sharing her with us.

  3. What a remarkable woman you celebrated, and what a grand party.

  4. A wonderful post of a wonderful Mother. Thanks for sharing. Tears have welled up in me.

  5. She is an amazing woman and in a great shape. Greeings from europe

  6. What a wonderful 100th birthday celebration! This reminds me of my mother's 100th birthday party. My mother's name, by the way, was also "Alberta," as is mine, but I use my middle name instead.

  7. Absolutely, heart-warningly amazing! I just loved tis post.

  8. A wonderful celebration of a life definitely well lived and filed with sharing blessings with everyone in her life. What a wonderful heritage she gives: love, faith, courage, humor, creativity, perseverance and her purposeful choice to savor and celebrate both the moments and the milestones.

  9. Oh, Sally, this was a beautiful post! What a fantastic celebration for your mother and your whole family. Blessings to you all!

  10. So glad you still have the wonderful trees under which to share so much joy, both in remembering and living.

  11. This was just a beautiful post!!! I loved your Mother's poem and the pictures tell a wonderful story. She truly realizes she's had a blessed life.
    She in no way looks 100. You are fortunate to share her marvelous genes and spirit.
    A belated Happy Birthday to Sally's Mom. Keep celebrating.

  12. Wonderful! What a gorgeous post! What a wonderful life to be honored. You are all truly blessed.

  13. what a lovely celebration for a wonderful mom and lady!

  14. I have enjoyed seeing all the celebrations both here and on Facebook. Happy birthday to such a wonderful person. You have honored her very much, and I know she appreciates it, as do I. :-)

  15. That truly is a milestone for her and all of the family.

  16. Best wishes to your mother. B's mother also turned 100 last month, and she had a similar family party. It's quite a event that's worth a celebration!

  17. Wonderful post. One hundred years of family history. Amazing...:)

  18. How magnificent! All that she has seen in her lifetime! The photos -- both the current (and especially the ones surrounded by family) and the vintage ones are terrific.

    Such a role model to have in your life and for your children. I hope she realizes (and how could she not?) that she is wrapped in a great deal of love.


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