Tonight, I wanted to share with you the toast I gave for my parents at their joint 70th birthday party last weekend!
It was such a great shindig — the music, the food, the company — it was a blast and a half! My parents mean the world to me, and I wanted to honor them in front of their friends…and I want you to know too! 🙂
So imagine me clinking my wine glass…
“On behalf of my siblings, husband and myself, I’d like to thank you all for coming tonight to celebrate this dynamic duo and their big birthday!
It’s really awesome to look around this room tonight and realize that everyone here is united because they’ve felt the love of Mark and Mary. Daughters, sons, grandkids, friends, neighbors — this pair have walked with us in friendship, in faith, in fun and in the process, whether they’d like to admit it or not, have positively impacted our lives in big and small ways.
Many of you in this room were at Steven and my wedding this summer, and I’m going to try my best to follow in the footsteps of my father’s absolutely incredible toast.
Dad: my owl story teller extraordinaire: I was thinking about what it is that makes you you, and I think it can be described by this example. If you know D, then you know that one of his quirks is that back in the day, he loved American Idol. As in: he never missed an episode, he bought the CD’s and put them on his iPod shuffle. He was invested, for lack of a better word. And when we asked him one day why it was that he liked that show so much, without hesitation he said, “because I like to see the kids do well.” And that is him in a nutshell: and not just for the American Idol contestants. From racing home after work to coach my brothers’ little league football (for which, he was famous for changing in the bushes); going to Addy and Claire’s exhibitions at school; being Jack and Liam’s mystery reader at preschool, using Steven’s company’s hair products and being their legitimate biggest fan, going to my brothers’ college football and basketball games every weekend, and even eating VEGAN in solidarity with me for an entire year while I was home healing from an ulcerative colitis flare: this man is the real deal. And loves to see the kids do well.
But not only that, he shows up. In my brothers’ sports careers, he only missed one game for work ever. And he was at every show and play I was in growing up.
And dad, you are the most generous person. And I’m not just talking monetarily: giving us an education to take with us into the world, but you give back to the community: both locally and internationally: from the prolife crisis pregnancy center, to the TR foundation in Nicaragua, to the well you had built in a Latin American village so they could have clean water. And you’re also generous with your time and heart: you truly gave Steven and I the most breathtakingly beautiful, detail-oriented, special wedding we could have ever dreamed of. And as I’ve reflected on it: that wedding was the physical manifestation of the love that I’ve felt from both you and mom since I was a little girl. In fact, dad was so excited and got so into our Gatsby theme that he actually surprised us with that awesome Gatsby four piece jazz band. It was so beautiful how you, not only found ways to celebrate the Filipino culture (hello, you learned some Tagalog!), but you also found the most meaningful way to honor Steven’s dad. You and mom both love with your whole hearts: you put everything into it, and love in such a personal, detail-oriented way.You gave us the world. And we love you so much.
Now for the Mare Bear: this woman is the strongest woman I know. You are the heartbeat of our family and truly of our community. If each of us thinks back to our first encounter with Mary, I’m willing to bet that it most likely it will involve the Bible study that she started from nothing and grew to over 130 people at church, and then went onto do it again at [another parish]. You have such a gift for teaching, yes — but ALSO for being a good friend and creating a place where lifelong friendship and community can form and thrive. I remember watching her set up and tear down the room every week and seeing all the work she put into that color-coded Bible, and on the rare occasion when I was able to attend her class, I’d see just how much she loved those women and put her entire heart into it. And it truly changed so many lives. And I mean that.
You see, mom has a beautiful way of sharing her heart with people. I’m sure everyone in this room has at one point or another received a MTYN: A Mary Thank You Note. Let me tell you, they can turn your day around. She has an amazing ability to express exactly what you need to hear, and that’s because: she used to go into the adoration chapel at church and pray for the person while she’d write those cards. In fact, if you go downstairs, she built into this house — not an adoration room — but a prayer room so she could have a place to pray surrounded by the people she loves. She is a prayer warrior.
But don’t think this woman is all innocent: next time you talk to her, look very closely in her beautiful brown eyes, because you will see a twinkle: she loves t have fun. She has quite the practical jokester side to her. Whether sending potty humor-themed packages to her friends, dressing up as outrageously hilarious characters on Halloween complete with fake teeth, or pulling practical jokes on April and Liz during their introductory visits to Cincinnati to meet our family: (Be sure to ask my beautiful sisters how they feel about pickled herring and saran wrap!) But Mare’s laugh is infectious and it’s one of my favorite sounds in the world.
I could go on and on, but we would of course be here all night. And we’ve got too much good bourbon at the bar to waste our time listening to me gush.
Happy birthday to two of the best people in the world. We love you so much. Thank you for enriching our lives by being you!”