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Long Distance Daughter – Part 2 (For Part 1: Click here.)

Here’s an idea for those with aging parents living far away or those who cannot have visitors currently. I know this can bring heartache and frustration. With the pandemic, circumstances beyond geography may limit how we share the love and care well for our parents. Here are two ideas that could encourage you to find a way to care creatively.

Back in January 2019, as my mom’s 95th birthday approached, I felt challenged by some of the limits placed on celebrating this milestone. If you have loved ones far away, you might identify.

  • My mom and I lived about 2,300 miles apart.
  • She had specifically instructed me that she did not want a party. I always try to obey and honor her.
  • I felt guilty that I was unable to travel to be with her.
  • I knew she did not want a gift that needed storage, display space, or dusting.
  • I felt societal expectations and pressure to do something big for her.
  • I felt internal pressure out of my love for her and desire to honor her.

A little idea came my way. I had no idea how it would work. I want to share it with you now, in case it inspires you to borrow and adapt it or it prompts new creative ideas for celebrating your long-distance loved ones. Here’s what I did:

  1. Created a postcard non-party invitation, using a resource, Vistaprint.
  2. Picked a design and color she would like.
  3. Added a photo of her as a young woman.
  4. Added the information announcing her birthday and no party.
  5. On the other side, some of my mom’s favorite activities were listed.
  6. Recipients were invited to select one activity to do in honor of my mom, to think of her in that, and to have fun!
  7. If they wished to let her know, they could do so. I provided her address at the bottom of the card.
The front of the card sent to her friends and family….

Next, on the reverse side, I…

  1. Listed some of my mom’s favorite activities
  2. Invited people to select an activity to do in honor of my mom.
  3. Included her address, in case they wished to let her know what they did in her honor and for greeting cards.
And the back with fun ways to honor her.

I was sneaky prior to this. On a previous visit, without her knowing, I’d taken photos of her address book to have names and addresses to mail the announcements. I addressed the envelopes, stamped them, and sent them on the way with a hope and a prayer prior to her birthday.

Here’s what happened:

  • She got many, many lovely cards from her beloved family and friends.
  • People wrote amazing messages and caring thoughts to her.
  • People did fun things in her honor and shared the stories with her.
  • Someone sent a gift card to the Olive Garden, with instructions for my brother to pick up tiramisu for her to enjoy.
One group, business associates, sent a photo seated in a room eating tiramisu.
  • Someone sent flowers.
  • The cards kept coming.
  • Someone sent her violets.

My mom was so touched by it all. She had the best time checking her mail. She was so amused by the whole idea. I never could have imagined the sweet impact this would have on her. She said to me, “I feel like my life really made a difference.” That still fills my heart with so much joy.

I had no idea how this would fill her heart with love on her ninety-fifth birthday. Needless to say, I was so happy. What started as a desperate attempt to celebrate a precious woman from far away, to ease my guilt of being a long-distance daughter, turned in to one of the most memorable things of her recent years. I was deeply touched as well.

Four months after that fun time, my mom passed away. I had the peace of mind that all those written tributes, words that might have been shared at a funeral, were shared at just the right time. She got to read them all. And over and over. Sometimes, even in situations where we feel so limited in what we can do, love breaks through at just the right time in the perfect way.

May 2018 (Mom at 94-years old)

By the way, she didn’t want a funeral either. We honored her request.

Stay creative in loving others, my friends.

P.S. Here is another idea that brings sweet joy, too. My friend made this amazing photo wreath for her mom’s recent 95th birthday. My friend is also a long-distance daughter with her dear mom living just under 2,000 miles away. I love this idea! Getting creative to show our love long-distance goes a long way.