Happy Mother’s Day, Senator Mom (Ret.)

As some of you may know, my Mom recently retired from the Missouri Senate. After serving five years in the Missouri House of Representatives, she was elected to the Senate in 2004 and re-elected in 2008. She served her district well, but decided late last year to step away from her career to spend more time with my Dad – her husband of 59 years – and our family.

Mom’s retirement was marked with a number of special events and honors, not to mention extensive media coverage. One “big ta-do” in her honor was held on March 25 at the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center & State Museum in Kansas City, Mo. I was delighted to add the decorative flourishes to the event in celebration of her long and distinguished service to the Kansas City community and her birthday as she turned a tender 82. (She’s still so young…I don’t think this whole “retirement” thing will last but a hot second! 🙂 )

So, my dear blogger friends, if you will indulge me…as we celebrate Mother’s Day, I’d like to share with you a few photos from Mom’s retirement party.
Congratulations, Senator Mom!

A celebration in honor of Senator Yvonne S. Wilson.

Despite not feeling well at all (101 temp!), this is me clowning around in comfy Mary Janes and anklet socks. 🙂 I reluctantly changed into snazzy heels as guests began to arrive.

I wanted to have a single focal point in the room that would be visible from the entryway. Two of my cousins helped me get up on the buffet table to build this 8-ft. tall floral arrangement before the caterer arrived to add this fabulous food display. As the room grew darker, the hanging votives (LEDs for safety!) throughout the arrangement made a stunning statement.

Assorted bright green butterflies fluttered among the profusion of willow branches, eriostemon and dendrobium orchids.

I created arrangements in faux silver julep cups for the guest tables, surrounded by a trio of votives. (We went with faux silver cups so the volunteer hostesses could take them home later as a token of appreciation.) Smaller similar arrangements were created for the two guest book tables. I love these vintage-looking pink roses with the curly green edges!!! Sprigs of seeded eucalyptus and hypericum berries complete the look.

Our sweet friend, Patrick Snuffer, created the beautiful cakes for the event. Not only does he make deliciously moist cakes, but he is also an accomplished floral designer. The fresh rose and orchid arrangements on the five cakes are his designs.

I iced down bottles of sparkling wine for the toast in two of these oversized silver pedestal bowls. Adding a few orchid blooms to the mix makes it look extra special.

My sister who loves to do crafty projects came up with the idea to have guests sign pieces of photo fabric (something I never heard of!) that she will use to make a commemorative quilt.

Almost showtime! The Three Amigas check the list one last time. L to R: My cousin Virginia Dee Evans who worked patiently and tirelessly to coordinate the event, friend Karen Boyd who selflessly pitched in to help in any and every area possible, and me.

Local celebrity, “Tall” Paul Alexander surprised my Mom when he showed up to greet arriving guests. Tall Paul – a former member of the Harlem Globetrotters – is a doorman who has greeted everyone from presidents to movie stars to rock legends, has been a fixture at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City for 37 years. In the background is famed jazz musician Luqman Hamza (jazz enthusiasts may remember his 1950s hit “When You Surrender”) who wowed guests with his musical stylings throughout the evening. That handsome young fellow on the other side of my Mom is my Daddy, Jim.

Patrick created a beautiful corsage or orchids and seeded eucalyptus for my Mom.

For the piano, I created a compact arrangement of pink and green roses that sat atop one of my 31″H silver candelabra.

Family photo time! L to R: Nicole Wankel (nephew’s longtime girlfriend), nephew Justin Chamberlain-Dupree, Daddy Jim Wilson, Mom, niece Yvonne Chamberlain, Mom’s senatorial successor Kiki Curls, sister Berishia Wilson-Chamberlain, and me.

My feet are killing me and I am so sick I’m pretty sure I’m going to barf at any moment, but that perpetual public smile is still plastered on my face! My parents taught me well! 🙂

Missouri Governor Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon was among the 300+ guests who showed up to wish Mom well in her retirement and sign the commemorative quilt.

Newly elected Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James toasts my Mom. (Mayor James hails from both my high school and college alma maters!)

Once a politician, always a politician :-)…and always a gracious one! Mom thanks the crowd for their years of support. Not too shabby lookin’ for 82 years young!

The fun “thank you for your support” fortune cookie favor was another of my sister’s creations!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!!!

All photos by Sheri L. Grant

22 thoughts on “Happy Mother’s Day, Senator Mom (Ret.)

  1. Alycia, what a memory all of you created for your mom. How wonderful that through gritting teeth, you were there on her special day. Love love Love the votives in that first arrangement. And the tall one on the piano too. gorgeous. And those cakes, well they take the cake.. Wish her well from me and you get better and start your packin!! giggle giggle.


    • Hey, Marlis! That was back when I had pneumonia but didn’t know it yet. Funny how we can power through things when we must! 🙂 Those cakes were so tasty and pretty. Patrick always does such a stupendous job. I jokingly call him my “brother from another mother.” We have been two peas in a pod ever since we met some 15 years ago.

      I’ll start packin’ again on Monday. I’m taking this weekend off from all of that! Thanks, and have a wonderful Mother’s Day!!!


  2. What a great tribute to a great politician/ mom, Alycia. Congrats on Senator Wilson’s retirement and Happy Mother’s Day. Everything looked so good and so many good ideas…Christine


  3. Alycia, I didn’t know you had a famous politician for a Mom! How exciting that must have been!! Everything looks so lovely. All the best for a very happy retirement. xo,


    • Hi, Barbara! I know my Mom will see your nice comment. Thank you!!! Both my parents have been been public figures since we were kids. My brother, sister, and I really had to watch our Ps & Qs, although I was the bad one! (Still am!) 😉 I have always enjoyed doing parties for my parents. I can remember my sister & I planning a surprise anniversary party for them when we were very young. And my Mother…oh, the parties she used to throw! It’s in the blood! 🙂 Here’s wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day, and thank you so much for stopping in!


  4. I can tell by seeing your photos and reading about your mom’s tribute, that no detail was overlooked! Your florals were outstanding and so pretty. I especially love the very tall focal point one with the little LED lights! Your mom is so pretty and has a glorious smile…….sort of like yours, and one can just tell that her heart is caring for others! She will be missed as a Senator, I feel certain; however, being able to serve all of those years made a difference in so many lives. I pray the best for her and for your dad. Happy Retirement and a long happy life ahead are my wishes for them!


    • Dear, sweet, wonderful Phyllis…thank you SO much! Mom toiled long and hard in the House and the Senate, and this is a well-deserved break from the action. She and Daddy have been career-oriented all their adult lives, and it’s good to see them “chilling out” for once! Have a very Happy Mother’s Day, and thank you again for such sweet remarks!


  5. Alycia, of all the Mother’s Day wishes, this is the most memororable one. This reception would not have been as elegant had you not stepped in for the ambiance required for the occasion. I am so proud and thankful to have such loving and talented daughters. God has been good to me and your father and we will enjoy our years of retirement from public service that we have enjoyed all of our adult lives.



  6. Alycia, That is such a beautiful tribute to your beautiful mom. She must be very proud of you. I can’t believe she’s a young 82! She looks fabulous!! I see where you get your good looks and personality. Her retirement party looked a big success. Your floral arrangements were beautiful and even with a 101 temp you still looked great in those ankle socks and mary janes. lol
    Wishing you and your beautiful mom a very Happy Mother’s Day.


    • Hey there, Babs! Thank you! Weren’t those Mary Janes & anklets a hoot with that dress? I was just not feelin’ the high heels until the absolute last minute. 🙂 I wish you, too, a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend. Enjoy!


  7. Congratulations on your retirement and a belated Happy Birthday Mrs. Wilson! You look much younger than the age your daughter posted. Also, thank you for your service to this great country. Alycia, you created a fabulous tribute to your Mom. The decos were lovely! And, even though you were ill, you looked adorable in your mary janes.
    Ladies, have a very Happy Mother’s Day!


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  9. Oh I’m so enjoying taking in all these wonderful details! First of all, your mother is so youthful! LOVE those sleeves on her dress! YOU look wonderful too, I don’t know how you pulled this off when you didn’t feel well, maybe you missed your calling & should have been a politician too! I loved your Mary Jane’s BTW 🙂 And you sister, what an EXCELLENT idea for fabric photos for a commerative quilt & those fortune cookies are adorable! The orchids in champagne bowl… those glorious embellished cakes…your sweet arrangements in the julep cups with those lovely pink roses & your little butterflies fluttering on top of your willow branches…what a FABULOUS retirement party!

    Thanks for sharing your talents & wonderful ideas! I hope you had a wonderful anniversary & have a Happy Mother’s Day!


  10. Kudos to your mom for giving of herself in public service. I’ve been there and know that it is not always a job for which one receives thanks. And kudos to you for the part you played in making her retirement celebration special. As always, your touches are wonderful as I alluded to in my recent post. BTW, you’ll have to share the finished quilt.


    • Hi, Linda! I hope you had a peaceful and enjoyable Mother’s Day! I WILL share a photo of the finished quilt if my sister ever gets it done! 🙂 She just finished her last(?) final last night, so I think she will have a little more time to devote to fun things like that now! Have a great day!!!


  11. What a wonderful day for your mom! By the way, she is so beautiful and does not at all look her age, so youthful (like mother, like daughter). And what a talented family you have! Wow, that 8 ft. arrangement was beautiful, just stunning! Can’t wait to see the commemorative quilt. So sorry you weren’t feeling well during the event, I’m sure after it was all over, you probably wondered how you got through it all. Definitely with class, though, a gorgeous smile, and a knock-out lbd!! I’m sure your mom had a great time–I know everyone must just love her and appreciate all that she has done. She deserves a little pampering!! You’re a special daughter!!


  12. I’m so impressed with you! Your Mother is one to be proud of for sure and so are you! You did a splendid job on that 8′ tall arrangement and the cakes look so elegant! If you were feeling sick you sure didn’t show it! What a great life you’ve all had because of her big heart and generous contributions to the local community as well as the State.


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