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