T.his weekend is my mother-in-law, Jean Taggart Holmes’ 90th birthday. She was born in Augusta, Arkansas on March 18, 1932. She graduated from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in 1954 and married Bill Holmes in 1957. Jean spent her life acting in community theater, volunteering, raising children and being an active member in the First United Methodist Church, Garland. She and Bill were avid birders, having traveled the world on birding adventures in such places as Australia, Peru, India, Europe and all the United States of America.
We will be celebrating Jean’s birthday at my sister-in-law’s lake house. We have a big and bountiful weekend planned of just sheer fun — birthday skits and songs, playing games, fishing, fireworks, boating and eating lots of delicious food. I am so looking forward to treating my mom-in-law like the queen she is. At 90 years young, she is still sharp as a tack, a champion Rummikub player, a great conversationalist and keeps a positive outlook on life. She laughs at all of us a lot and finds joy in how much fun there is still to be had in life.
This time of year, I find myself getting sentimental and a bit weepy. I have always loved spring and the rebirth it brings. But spring now reminds me of the loss of loved ones. My mom’s birthday was April 5 and my dad’s was April 12. My fatherin law’s birthday was April 6. They are all gone, and their absences are felt greatly. Each one of them brought such a special and unique type of joy to our lives.
I have to remind myself to turn my grief into gratefulness as I was blessed to have been loved by and to have loved three such amazing humans. They all gave my family so many wonderful, rich experiences and memories. They taught us amazing life lessons and were excellent examples of how to live, love, work and play.
The older I get, the more I appreciate these simple qualities in people — kindness, altruism, a sense of humor, a purpose, drive and a devotion to giving back. It’s interesting that Noel and my parents were cut from the same cloth and were abundant in all of these qualities. Interesting too that they both had very similar marriages. Met and married in their young 20s and stayed married for 60-plus years. Devoted to and best friends with each other. Put their marriage first before their children. Still held hands, told each other daily they loved each other, spoke about each other with love and affection. They thought each other were still cute and funny! Active in their church and big supporters of the arts. Huge community volunteers to the end of their lives.
Of course, all of that I write is the very best version of our family. I could write too about all our “weirdness” and imperfections. But not today. By the way, all our weirdness and imperfections are just as wonderful and precious to me as the other parts.
I hope that you have a wonderful weekend. May you spend it with those you love basking in and embracing all the weird and wonderfulness of whomever it is that you call family and friends. Make those memories and make them magical.
NOEL WILKERSON HOLMES is the Publisher and Managing Editor of the Pleasanton Express. You may reach her at email@example.com.