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Mother Clifton’s 82nd Birthday

Gary, Mother "Reva Clifton", and Jean

While home in Indiana in February, we traveled from Indianapolis to my sister’s home in northern Indiana, very near the Michigan border, to go to my mother’s 82nd birthday party. We were supposed to have flown out of Orlando, Florida the day before the date of her party, but due to winter storms throughout the country, that flight was canceled. So, we ended up flying out of Florida the day of the party, and we were unsure we would even be able to make it in time. With that in mind, we didn’t call to let the family know we were coming until we were about a half hour away from my sister’s house. By then, a lot of the guests had left, but my sister was able to delay Mother from leaving. And, my brother and his family, who live in Iowa, delayed their departure until we could get there and see them for awhile. Mother was elated, as we knew she would be, when she saw us come through the door. She is such an awesome, Christian lady, an inspiration to all of us. And, she is well worth the effort it took to celebrate another birthday with her: delayed flight home from Florida, taxi to our Indy home, throwing our overnight bags in the car and driving three hours north to get there.

A little history on this special lady: (Before I do, I want to state a line that my sister coined, and she let’s me use it as well: “My mother is a saint, and I’m just like my dad.” I wouldn’t want anyone to think I can measure up to my mother’s standards. After all, I am a sailor.) My mother, first and foremost displays the most Christian attributes of any person I have ever known. She is loving and gracious. She never meets a “stranger”. She is very strong, not physically, but mentally and spiritually. She is caring, kind, generous, beautiful, smart, talented in many ways, witty, playful, and the list could go on and on. As I’ve gotten older and wiser myself, I realize she is not perfect and that’s okay. It doesn’t make her less of a saint in our eyes.

Mother was diagnosed with cancer for the first time in the 1970’s. At that time, she was sent home to die after her uterine cancer spread to the bone in her right arm. Some time later (I can’t remember exactly the interval of time), I just happened to be with her for a follow-up appointment when the attending physician greeted Mother with, “ Well, Mrs. Clifton, I didn’t expect to see you again.“ She never told any of us, she was “sent home to die”. The doctor also showed us on the x-ray where the cancer had eaten away about 4 inches in length of bone in her right arm and it was being held together by a small amount of bone left untouched from the ravage of cancer. Then the doctor said, and I quote, “You are a miracle.” Since then, she has had various kinds of cancer during nine different episodes. Presently, she is suppose to be dying of Multiple Myeloma, diagnosed three years ago. At the time of the diagnosis, the doctor said she would probably live a few months to a few years. She is the healthiest, happiest, dying person I know. She plays Wii with the grandkids and great grandkids. Bowling is her forte. She crochets like crazy, even with her fragile right arm. Oil painting is one of her accomplished hobbies. She loves to read and thanks to cataract surgery and reading glasses, she can read as much as she desires. Gardening vegetables and flowers are probably her favorite pleasures in life. She has always loved seeing “anything” grow. I remember when the five of us children were young, she would take us for “nature walks”. It seemed she knew the name of every tree and weed in the woods. Now, I wish I’d paid more attention to her teachings and learned the names of the flora and fauna, as Gary and I have a passion for all of nature as well.

My mother was “green” before “green” was cool. From my earliest memories, I can recall her awareness of our fragile eco-system. She always conserved water and electricity. Many times, I remember going into the kitchen and she would be busy at her task in the dim natural light. Of course, in my ignorance, I’d switch on the light and would say something stupid like, “ Why don’t you have the light on, Mama? How can you see what you’re doing?“  Oh, to be young again, and know it all…

She recycled before most people knew what recycling was all about; stocking up tin cans, plastic jugs and newspapers on the back porch until she or when she was physically unable, someone else could deliver her stash to the community recycle bins. Years ago, when she frequented an Amish health food store, she saved egg cartons and plastic containers for the Amish to reuse in their store. Nothing was ever wasted in our home. Of course, with five children to feed, clothe and shelter, there wasn’t much left over to waste.

 I remember being a little embarrassed of my mother’s appearance when I was a teenager. When I became a mother myself, I realized my mother’s “old clothing” was due to the fact she put her children’s needs before her own, and concentrated on keeping all of us nicely clothed. After all her children left the nest, she became one of the best dressed women in town. Yeah, for Mama. And, she still loves to shop…

I know I can speak for the whole family and everyone who knows her, “We have been so blessed to have Reva Clifton for all these years. We hope to celebrate many more birthdays with her.”

















  1. Samantha says:

    Aunt Jean..This is a beautiful post , I printed it for grandma. Everything you said is so true about her. I have only been in the family for 13 years, but I have been one of her girls since the day she met me. People often tell us, that it is wonderful what we do for grandma, I try to explain to them that it is not what we do for her, but what she does for us. She has more love, faith and spirit than an person I have every met, this humbleness reflects upon those in her life; everyday is a good day for grandma…we have been blessed to share everday with her for these last few years.

    She also wanted me to tell you that she won’t be 83 until next year

    Love & Hugs-Sam

    1. Jean says:

      Beautifully written sentiments, Sam. And, everyone in the family are so appreciative of Thomas, you and your children living with Mother and helping her daily with whatever she needs. You all are angels. Living with all of you, has given her “new life” indeed. A fitting reply this Easter season.

      Oops, about the age…I guess that was wishful thinking. Thank you for the correction, and I’ll fix it on the blog.

      By the way, if ANYBODY sees other type-o’s, improper use of grammar, misspelled words, corrections to material, etc., please e-mail me and let me know.

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