On turning 70 and celebrating big


Nope. Not me. This time it’s the other Mary Steiner celebrating a milestone. My sister-in-law, Mary Steiner Lord, turns 70 on January 3. It is a fact that amazes me. Probably it amazes her, too.

This is the woman who — according to an unnamed source — saw Elvis Presley in person. It was one of his usual performances complete with “screaming hordes of girls”. Apparently, my source’s details are sketchy since he was, at the time, just a little brother.

This is the woman who plans elaborate Halloween parties for her eight grandchildren, ranging in age from 16 to 2. No one is allowed in without a costume. Everyone complies, including her husband, Guy, and grown children.

This is the same woman, a faithful Quaker who — faced with living in Salt Lake City with her doctor husband and young children —  joined the local ERA chapter, distributing material door to door, pre-school-age daughter in tow. It was she who sent a tiny ERA t-shirt when our first daughter was born.

This is the woman who takes her grandchildren along to the annual Quaker summer meeting — even when their parents can’t attend — making sure they get to experience the week-long activities.

Mary Steiner Lord (back row, second from right), with her family

When her young Bluffton nieces are old enough to travel without their parents, she invites them to join her family in Milwaukee, taking them to Brewers’ games, art museums, zoos, and revolving restaurants high over the city, where she indulges their fondness for fancy desserts.

It is also she who also generously invites the daughters of her distant Swiss cousins to spend entire summers with her family in Milwaukee, taking them to Chicago and Bluffton to meet their other American cousins.

This is the woman who loves to paint, play piano, attend the symphony. She wouldn’t miss a single performance of her grandchildren — Irish dancing, violin, piano, soccer, cross country. And when her daughter, daughters-in-law, and sons decide to tackle triathlons — she’s there.

But this Sunday, the focus will be on her. It’s going to be a big “Let’s fete Mary” party. But I’ll betcha anything, her eyes will be on her kids and grandkids — the loves of her life.

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