Birthday Magic on the River


Just before we put those jackets on.

Never mind that I had just arrived home Sunday from a near-week long trip. Monday morning, I boarded the early train to Quincy for my 15th time this year. My Mom’s 89th birthday was that day and I didn’t want to miss it.

I thought we would go out to lunch to the nice place on the river and after that, I wasn’t sure of the plan. I’m working on detaching from too many “plans” and giving space for what shows up in the moment.

“Let’s go see Mary” was her greeting. Mary was one of the few surviving nursing school friends of the class of ’47. She lived in a nursing home an hour outside of town.

“Mom do you want to go out to a nice lunch first?” was my reply. She didn’t so we climbed in her dated Buick and drove over to see Mary. On the way we stopped at a little truck stop and shared a BLT. Not exactly the birthday lunch I had in mind but she got to call the plays that day.

Mary seemed incredulous at this spontaneous class reunion and they held hands and retold their favorite stories from that long gone era. I stepped out to give them a chance just to be girlfriends again.


Two old friends.

We met up with my brother and his kids later for dinner at a favorite local place then he announced we were going out on the river for a birthday ride.


Back story: Our family owned a boat back in the 60’s. Nothing fancy but enough to pull us and often a few friends up and down the Mississippi. I never got the hang of water skiing but loved being out in the water. The sweet memory of those evening river cruises has never faded. I knew my brother owned a boat too but I never dreamed Mom and I could take one more ride. It felt like it was my birthday too!

We donned our life jackets and slipped into the bay then crossed into the Mighty Miss. It seemed like the river cleared out just for us. Very calm, no traffic and the new beautiful lights of the bridge softly lit the dusky sky. I could have stayed there all night.


We finally headed back but saw in the distance the American Queen Cruise Line heading our way. Mark steered us as close as we could get as the long ship passed by, its large paddle churning the waves towards us. “Hello” we all yelled as loud as we could and some passengers on the deck yelled “Hello” back and the big boat flashed its light. No doubt to wish my Mom happy birthday!


The American Queen

I came home on the 6:12 AM train the next morning still stunned from the magical day. Glad for once that I didn’t have a plan so the perfect one could emerge!

Hope for the best,



4 Responses to “Birthday Magic on the River”

  1. 1 Mary September 2, 2015 at 5:47 PM

    It did sound magical Tish! You also model to others how to love your mother so graciously. Thank you.

  2. 3 September 2, 2015 at 8:54 PM

    Incredibly inspiring and encouraging. I love the photos too!

    Ann K


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