Happy Birthday, Mom!
Six weeks after I turned 18–which was more than 2/3 of my lifetime ago—I was initiated into your P.E.O. chapter in Fort Scott and presented my gold star. My initiation that day was a thoughtful and beautiful ceremony, and the only surprise was when the secret word was whispered in my ear. I remember you smiling at the look on my face because I’d spent years making wrong guesses and concocting my own answers, and the secret work meant much more than anything I’d come up with.
Because Fort Scott is only a twenty-minute drive from Nevada, Missouri, I knew all about the beautiful red-bricked, white-trimmed campus of Cottey College. Sponsored by P.E.O. chapters all over the country, Cottey is the only nonsectarian college owned and supported by women. Students attend from 40 states and 15 countries. While I was growing up, International students couldn’t always go home for holidays, and I knew that they often received invitations from P.E.O.s. Because of your welcoming heart, Mom, we had Japanese and German students staying with us at Thanksgiving or Easter.
What I didn’t know all those years ago was that wherever I would go–away to college in Kansas and then to graduate school and to live in Colorado—there were always P.E. O. chapters to welcome me, and wonderful women who would become good friends.
This year, on your 94th birthday, the members of my P.E.O. Chapter BW in Colorado Springs send you warm and loving birthday greetings. When I told the group you had a birthday soon, immediately they posed together, waving for the camera and calling out greetings. Through the years you’d visited and attended meetings with me, but very few of those sisters still remain. Your “new” sisters—we all wear the same star—reach out to you with genuine affection and well wishes.
It’s come full circle, Mom. You brought me into a Kansas chapter of P.E.O. sisters, and now I bring you warm greetings from my sisters in Colorado. Heart to Heart. Star to Star. Happy Birthday!
The P.E.O. sisterhood was founded at Weslyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa in 1869. Seven students who believed in women joining together as friends formed a sisterhood that went on to support and encourage other women to reach their educational goals. Today there are more than 250,000 members. Student loans and international scholarships are available.