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Happy 70th Birthday To My Mom!

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My mom Carolynn, who I affectionately call “Carrie” turns 70 years young today!

My family and I had the pleasure of celebrating this milestone event with my dad, sister and family a couple of weeks ago in her hometown of Gimli, Manitoba. She was thrilled to catch up with family and close friends.

She taught elementary school for many years before starting her “real job” of taking care of my sister and yours truly. She was a fixture over the years playing the piano at our schools and volunteering. I was always so proud to see her playing the piano at our assemblies. She returned to the workforce after we were “all growed up”.

Now her job as “Amma” (Icelandic for Grandma) to her four grandchildren keeps her smiling and having fun. My parents love coming to visit us in Edmonton, and enjoy the time they spend with their other two grand children, daughter and son-in-law in Winnipeg too.

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When my dad turned 70 last year, I mentioned that our family loves to have fun and laugh! My 3 favourite moments laughing with my mom are:

#1 I was explaining to my mom that I was really tired one day, and was going to watch a quick movie that night. It was called, “Back Of My Eyelids”. Her reply, “I don’t think I have seen that one dear.”

#2 She was shopping at the local mall, and either forgot where she parked the car, or it was actually moved. We may never know what actually happened. Word spread to a few of our neighbors, and the next time she went to visit our “adopted grandpa” next door, he just opened the front door a bit and very eloquently said, “I am sorry dear, but you don’t live here.”

#3 She is the best “backseat driver” I have ever seen! Her passenger seat shoulder checks are impeccable, and the “passenger side fake brake” always gets a workout when she is in a car.

We have laughed about these stories for years.

Her memory and commitment to family and friends is truly amazing. She seems to remember every person that she has ever met, and I have always been impressed by that. I recently quizzed her on our Icelandic family history, and her attention to detail as far back as 60+ years ago was incredible. I guess that is where I get it from! I have often looked at the calendar in her kitchen and asked, “Do you actually acknowledge all of those birthdays, anniversaries etc?” And the answer, of course, is “yes”.

You know our conversations would always be interesting when it started with “You remember that person from…..”

She is still sharp as a tack when it comes to the little details.

Always so selfless, I have only known her to think of others first. “No” has not been a very popular word in her vocabulary over the years. But “what can I do to help?” has been ringing in my ears since I was a kid. She has been there for so many family members and friends when they needed her; I lost count years ago.

My mom is very musical, and comes from a very musical family. I wish I was a bit older so I could have witnessed all the fun evenings at my grandparents place with the sounds of piano, violin and laughter resonating throughout the house. One of our family’s favourite traditions is to have the neighbors over after dinner on Christmas Eve. It is always fun when mom plays piano and we have a big old sing-song with everyone 🙂

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Oh I almost forgot! My mom “taught me” to stay up late as a teenager. We watched “The Arsenio Hall Show” late together long before the days of time-sharing channels on TV. Those were also the early days of CNN. To this day her and dad stay up waaaaaayyyy too late and often I will text and say “go to bed” well after 12:30 am 🙂

I said a few words during mom’s birthday celebration a few weeks ago, and did not have notes. It was a whirlwind event and what I said is all kind of a blur to me now.

What I hope I said was my dad, sister and myself, and all our family and friends love her very much.

I will never forget the time she asked me, “Why did dad and I get invited to one of your friends’ weddings and none of the other parents did?” My reply,” You guys are different mom, you are the best!”

She has been the backbone of our family for 45 years, and we love her to pieces. Her infectious smile, fantastic laugh and helpful nature have made her a fixture growing up in Icelandic communities of rural Manitoba (Gimli & Hnausa), and now in her local community (Transcona, a suburb of Winnipeg, Manitoba).

Here’s to many more years of health, happiness and laughter my dear!

Cheers!

Love Tim and family

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Incredible 70th Birthday Gift For Dad – Yes YOU Matter!

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Three months ago my wife came to me with a 70th birthday gift idea for my dad. A friend of ours solicited email and written letter memories/greetings for her mom’s 70th birthday celebration, and it was a huge success. The goal was to get 70 submissions for 70 years. She suggested that concept for my dad as well, and my sister and I jumped all over it!

It has been an incredible journey, and a lot of hard work pulling everything together, but I would do it again in a second! The response was overwhelming! The last count of submissions was well in excess of 80! We were blown away. This was not surprising because of my dad’s vast network. But people lead busy lives, and don’t  drop everything for just anyone. Many of the letters were between one and two pages long. A lot of time was put in to this by many people who dad has affected in very positive ways over the years.

Friends, family, colleagues, students, neighbors and babies (yes my six month old son Rowan even contributed) all took the time to write emails, mail letters, cards and even old pictures.

There are many take aways from reading the submissions, but I want to focus on the most important one that I identified over and over again.

He has mattered in so many ways to people for the little things that he did; he may not have even known the positive effect that he had when he was doing those things. People appreciated those things more than he could ever know, and wanted to say thanks again. His support for students in the classroom, or in the gym during phys ed class (and in competition) have inspired generations of great professionals, and more importantly great people. His love and support for family and friends was discussed in great lengths by many too.

I know for a fact that he did not lend an ear when people just needed somebody to talk to, or picked kids up for volleyball practice because it was too early for buses to run, or voiced an opinion for a son or daughter who may have needed a little guidance because he expected something in return. He just did all of those things to be there for them, and never thought twice because he just loves to help others.

And you can too! So often we undervalue what we can do for friends, family or colleagues, but those little things truly do matter. We tend to get so self-absorbed getting through the day, we tend to forget the positive effect that we can have on others.

A smile, a helping hand, or a bit of advice can mean the world to someone when they feel like they are all alone.

The best thing that dad gives us every day is laughter. There has been a magnet on my parents fridge forever that says “Laughter Is The Best Medicine”.

So take that for what it is worth. Enjoy every day and help out when possible!

My dad continues to do so, and that is why he is so loved by all those who know him!