90+ Years of Adding Value

attitude life Nov 21, 2022

My Mom just turned 90 years young. Imagine reaching that milestone in your life.

For me, this means I am over 12,000 days shy of that mark. Presuming I have those number of days ahead (hopefully more), what am I going to do with the rest of those days?  Like my mom, I want to make those days count. 

I thought it would be fun to share a piece I wrote for my mom about how she has made her days count in the time I’ve known her. I hope you enjoy this. It’s meant to be lighthearted but also a reflection of a person who has made a difference in the life of others.

8 Days That Changed My Life

Happy Birthday Mom – I am so excited to celebrate your 90th birthday.

I want you to know how much you have meant to me – and really all of us. The best way I can share your story is to recount some of the incredible moments you have made – at least from my perspective. Enjoy.

“Make everyday count” That’s a mantra that I think you have lived up to – at least for me.

  1. The first day “for me” is easy – it was the day I was born. Honestly, I don’t remember that day at all, but I do know for a mom – those are days youl never forget. Apparently though my birth sealed the cake for you. I came 9 years after Kathy, and 5 years after Kurt. The pattern was set. But after me your words were, “That’s enough.” I think your line to dad must have been, “I think we’re good now. Don’t add more to your checklist.”
  2. One of the earliest days I sort of remember is the day you saved me from be guillotined by the back window of the neighbors ‘station wagon. David Drake and I were playing in his parent’s brand-new car, and I was curiously looking out the back window when my friend David decided to push its electric window up. You happened to glance out the window to see the sight and somehow bolted out the front door to save the day. Thank you for the “heads up” reaction.
  3. Another day that comes to mind is when we were living in Brazil and Kurt accidentally ran into a cactus bush and injured his eye. We took a military transport back to Bethesda Navy hospital and somehow – despite all the challenges you were there for all three of us – Kurt, Kathy, and me. That tragic challenge actually brought us closer together because of you and the efforts of Dad. Let it never be said that a mother’s love isn’t stronger than the challenges we face.
  4. How about the day when I was in 8th grade, and I had my front teeth knocked in? You found a way to make all the arrangements to have them save my teeth. I’m not sure if that was partially the dental hygienist in you coming out. But I think that was at least 95% pure Mama Bear – save the cub mode -- coming out of you.
  5. I also remember the day that Kathy and Ray’s ’s wedding day was threatened by Hurricane David. Our house flooded days before the big day. But you lead the charge and had us bailing water out of our basement, while still whipping up dinner.
  6. Speaking of dinner – I wish I could count the number of days where you miraculously whipped up a meal for whoever stopped by simply pulling out a few leftovers from the old fridge. Just think, if you were with Jesus when he fed the 5000, there’s no doubt you would have helped him feed 5000 more. I was always fascinated how you multiplied and extended things like soup, orange juice, and what I thought was skim milk. Now that I think of it, was your secret ingredient water?
  7. I remember how you and your older sister Dorothy had this amazing connection. Whether it was hosting an event in the chalet in Buena Vista or playing a game of cards around the table. The two of you always found a way to showcase genuine love and laughter while sipping on a hot cup of coffee. I think for us children – that picture of two sisters with a special bond – will always be a memory that makes us smile.
  8. Finally, your devotion to Dad and our family was a daily reminder to all of us. As a Navy wife, doing the things you did while Dad was deployed, traveling, or wherever we lived in the world is a true testament to not just his service to our country but your service too.

I’ll never forget the day at Arlington when we laid dad to rest. He was honored with a 21-gun salute, and the Navy Captain who was presiding over the ceremony gave you the folded flag from his casket. He leaned toward you and shared this comment.

"Mrs. Gustavson, while I didn't know your husband personally, I am deeply touched by his life. It is truly an honor to be a part of this service and to wear the uniform as your husband did before me. It is an honor to follow in his footsteps. He will be someone I will never forget. May God have comfort on you and your family."

Of all the days I think back on– that was day that I am probably the most proud of you. The way you accepted those words, and that flag was symbolic. Your qualities were reflected for all of us: grace, devotion, dedication, service, and unconditional love.

Not only that, when Dad passed all those years ago, you didn't top living.  You made your days count!

There are so many other days where you made an impact. But I think the fact that everyone came to celebrate your birthday today – is evidence that your days then and now have truly had an impact in their lives too. There are others who wish they could be here too, but I know each of them are here in spirt and wish you the best.

So Mom – here’s to you on this 90th Birthday. We Love You!


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