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Cherishing Mom on my birthday

March 25, 2011

Nina Camuti Danielsen and Mary Danielsen

Every year on my birthday – for as long as I can remember – I have received a hand-written card from my mother. I cherish every one of them.. They are saved, tucked into drawers, books, bibles, and nooks around my house. I do that so I can unexpectedly find them throughout the year and appreciate the real gifts she has always given me.

Last year she sent me a note detailing the day I was born. It is an amazing love letter, a legacy. Mom still says I haven’t stopped moving since that day.  I came home to parents, seven siblings, a grandmother and a great uncle, all living in the same house.  They were excited by my arrival. The day I learned to walk, I simply stood up and started bracing myself on the knees of family members sitting on the couch. Off I went.

Every chance I get to celebrate my birthday with Mom is a gift. This year I decided to share with her some of the blessings I have had just by being her daughter, the eighth of nine children.  The older I get the more I realize how important it is to tell people how thankful you are for having them in your life. Legacy tributes shouldn’t be saved just to document lives after they have passed, but rather to celebrate the stages in our lives.

This legacy letter is limited to only 48 items. Really…I could keep going infinitely.

Daffodils are Moms favorite because we both share a birthday in March

March 25, 2011

Dear Mom,

You always make me feel like the most important person in the world, especially on my birthday, After 48 years I thought I’d share with you the gifts you have given me again and again. You gave me a beautiful life and helped me grow so that I could share this life with my children. It is my hope for my children and grandchildren that I might do nearly as a good a job at being a mother as you have of being my mother. I am truly blessed to call you mine.

Here are some of the gifts I value and hold dear. Thank you, Mom.

  1. You gave me life.
  2. You fed me, dressed me and bathed me.
  3. You took care of my health.
  4. You showed me how to do these things myself.
  5. You gave me independence.
  6. You let me be independent in my own way.
  7. You encouraged my curiosity.
  8. You have a great sense of humor and know how to use it.
  9. You are faithful.
  10. You are deeply spiritual.
  11. You value the sacrament of marriage.
  12. Your hugs are the most joyful feeling in the world.
  13. The sound of your voice is always comforting.
  14. To hold you hand feels like I’m reaching back to many generations and, yet, clung to my best friend at the same time.
  15. I love that Melanie named you Granny and 20 other children followed her lead.
  16. You always let your grandchildren beat you in a game of Candyland.
  17. The site of you holding your grandchildren is like watching the sun rise over your face.
  18. You stick to your beliefs.
  19. You are old school enough to stick to some habits, like maintaining address books and hand-written letters.
  20. You keep the holy days.
  21. I love taking road trips with you, even if it’s just to the grocery store. I like time alone with you.
  22. You are practical.
  23. You are beautiful from the inside out
  24. Your love for family is everlasting
  25. You knew you wanted a big family and ignored all the naysayers. You never ever made me feel like a burden.
  26. You’ve learned to share us with others who, only later in life, wished they had a larger family.
  27. You are constantly reading and learning something new.
  28. You value when someone realizes they were wrong and apologizes.
  29. You also value the ever powerful thank you note. Hand written is best.
  30. You never go anywhere without crackers and a prayer card in your purse
  31. You were there for me when I needed you most and, even, when I didn’t.
  32. You taught me that the children come first. Anything I want for myself can go straight to the back of the line.
  33. A thrift shop is really just a treasure box yet to be opened. Appreciated.
  34. You don’t dwell on the failures from the past. Rather you acknowledge the failures, ensure they don’t happen again, and move on.
  35. You have an amazing way of keeping the peace.
  36. With nine children, at least 10 current or retired in-laws, seven nieces and nephews, 21 grand children, second cousins from Italy, dozens of close friends and a few dozen more friends of your children who never went home, you really are highly skilled to work as an air traffic controller, combat negotiator or a sheep herder in your next life.
  37. You get all our names straight.
  38. Your memory and recall is quite impressive. You remember things that your children do not, but will upon further consultation with each other.
  39. Granny chicken and tuna casserole are definitely worth traveling to eat.
  40. I loved sitting around the dining table and catching up with a cup of tea.
  41. I love that you required the phone to be off the hook during dinner time.
  42. You preserved family history and remembered to share it.
  43. You made every dinner, birthday, and holiday as fun as you possibly could.
  44. You taught us the beauty of elegance and the power of keeping our dignity, especially in times of crisis. Most of the time we remember this.
  45. You insisted we remain strong and connected as a family. It’s our legacy together.
  46. Chi va piano, va sano, e va lontano.  This I remind myself.
  47. Non-lasciare passare la manica del’palato. Sometimes I need reminding.
  48. You gave me life and taught me how to appreciate it.

Mom, I love you more than sunshine. I love you more than the breath I take. I love you more than the heart that beats in me. I love you more than anything.


Mary Veronica


Mom with her youngest grandchild Joseph L.T. Danielsen. Babies just know when a Nonna is in the room. They instantly calm down when she holds them.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Joseph Danielsen permalink
    March 25, 2011 2:30 pm

    A very beautifully written passage.
    I got most of your Italian but the second Italian phrase most be idiomatic, so I’m a bit confused and request a translation please.

  2. Susan G. Danielsen permalink
    March 25, 2011 2:48 pm

    This was the most amazing, beautiful note, and to cherish a mother as much as you do is a DEFINATE gift of life. Moms are ALWAYS to be cherished. Your mom is an ANGEL and loved by all.

  3. Deb Camuti permalink
    March 25, 2011 9:07 pm

    Happy Birthday!! Well said, no way to thank our Moms enough! Love Aunt Nina a very special person and you are following with all that you do, love to you!

  4. August 29, 2011 7:37 pm

    Joe, the second passage is a family expression meaning, “Don’t let it penetrate your coat sleeves. (AKA – Don’t let it bother you.)”


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