A Piercing Experience

https://pixabay.com/photos/tattoo-hand-i-love-you-propose-702133/PixArcWhen my mom was in her mid-80s, she asked that we visit a tattoo parlor together.

“Let’s get mother/daughter tattoos, maybe with a heart design,” she suggested.

I demurred. Her skin was so fragile and thin. A needle piercing would be dangerous at her age. And secondarily, I had no desire to have my skin pricked with needles.

Lastly, I’m not too proud to admit I’m not into unnecessary pain.

Disappointed, my mom didn’t bring up the subject again. A few years later she drifted into dementia, and she died from Covid at the age of 96.

I’ve regretted my decision ever since. sea storm, Ocean City NJ. after the storm, summer at the shore

It’s now a year since her passing, and I’m walking the Ocean City, NJ Boardwalk with my granddaughter and her friend, both 13. For some reason, they like having me along on this rainy day, winds and waves caused by a recent hurricane visible from the Boards. My daughter and her younger sons are dawdling behind us.

Sophie suddenly sprints into her favorite summer store, where two years earlier she’d had her ears pierced. She pleads to my daughter, “Please, Mom? You promised!” And before I can fathom the request, Sophie’s middle ear lobe is wiped with alcohol and a quiet, small woman hovers a staple gun (at least, that’s what it looks like) toward my granddaughter’s ear.

“I’m here for you!” Sophie’s friend promises, and she holds Sophie’s hand as a tiny (fake) diamond stud is zapped into her tender ear lobe. Sophie barely flinches, and then the other ear lobe is zapped.

She stands up with a huge smile on her face. The tiny earrings sparkle happily. And then my sweet granddaughter gazes at me and suggests, “Wouldn’t it be neat if we had identical second earrings, Madre?”

Oh. No.

PIxabay, sewing needleMy mom would not allow me to have my ears pierced when I was 10, or 15, or ever, so in my second year of college, when my dorm mates insisted they could pierce my ears, I agreed. With half a dozen friends surrounding me, one of them held an ice cube behind my ear lobe and poked a sewing needle into the other side. It hurt, plus I could hear the crunching since it took a while to get the needle all the way in. Then, we had to repeat the step on the other ear. I’m guessing I had a drink or two during the process.

I’ve loved wearing earrings ever since. In fact, I have three earring stands filled with coveted possessions. But I have no desire for a second earring in my ear lobe, and in fact, never particularly liked the look of it.

But.

I think back to my mom and the tattoo. ear piercing, Ocean City NJ Boardwalk

And I turn to Sophie and say, “What a great idea.”

As I sit on the “piercing chair” and wait for the zap, Sophie holds one hand, and my grandson holds the other. I’m not afraid of the stapler, but I soak up their support and love.

ear piercing, family, gramdmother and granddaughterAnd I feel my mom’s smiling nod.

211 thoughts on “A Piercing Experience

  1. I loved your whole story, it’s so pure and full of emotions. I am sorry for your loss…
    Due to tjis Covid-19 many families jad suffer and lost someone close to them. I had also…
    That’s the blessing that you had a support of your grand daughter and sophia…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That has got to be LOVE going through that piercing experience! A lovely story about your mother too Pam. The little video makes me think that would be my legs going jiggle jiggle at the sight of the needle or the staple gun, but on reflection I see it’s your lovely collection of earrings!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Funny! I should have moved my earring stand to show how it circles while I took the video. A “dizzying” effect. In fact, the new earring “staplers” are fast and feel like a quick pinch. But it was fun to extend the drama a bit. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s clear you have a wonderful, loving relationship with your granddaughter. I’m not a fan of tattoos or extra piercings. I’m not sure what I would have done.😀 My kids have matching tattoos–plus more.
    My mom’s cousin–the one who just turned 95–pierced my ears with one of those staple gun things when I was a teen. She and my mom had a store with clothes and earrings.

    I’m so glad you had a great family vacation.
    We haven’t even made it down to OC this year!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sophie and I are close…and I’m hoping that continues as she enters “teenagehooddom.” At least we’ll have earrings in common! Yes, not something i would choose to do, but sometimes “must needs,” as an elderly friend of mine always used to say. 🙂
      You were lucky to have a “second” cousin pierce your ears in a civilized manner. How cool that she and your mom owned a store together.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not sure if she owned it with my mom or not. My mom had a series of consignment/gift shops. But it was cool. I hope Sophie stays close with you, too. I think she might simply because you’re a grandparent and not a parent. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pam, this story brought tears to my eyes and then smiles to my lips. It is just wonderful and I love the photo of you and your granddaughter. Ocean City had to be a rough place to be this week.. Looks like you had a fabulous time anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We dodged the end of one hurricane and the beginning of another and somehow had days of sun, sand, and ocean fun. But on the rainy day – we got ears pierced on the Boardwalk. 🙂 Thanks so much for enjoying my “piercing” story, Bernadette.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had my ears pierced when I was 16 with cork behind my ear lobes and a sharp needle. For 50 years I wore golden spiral as an ear sticker. For a reason I can’t remember I stopped for a year or longer and now it is closed.
    I thought about a classic nautical tattoo as well but in the end I decided against it. Now I use sometimes this very well done fake tattoos. No pain and not for ever.
    Thanks and cheers
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, the ole cork and needle trick. After going through that (sounds worse than my ice cube and needle) I’m surprised you ever stopped wearing your golden spiral. Well, if you ever want to get re-ear-pierced, I know a great place in New Jersey. 🙂

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  6. Awe! Somehow I can imagine your adorable Mom with a tattoo. Rain and smoke, either side of the country, has been a disastrous few weeks. Your tender flash brought smiles and tears. Thank you Pam for some sunshine.
    Jeanette

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yes, my mom would have worn a tattoo proudly AND shown it off as often as possible to all of her sisters.
      I sure wish I could send some of our rain out your way to clear the fires and smoke and bring us all sunshine. Thinking of you with love. ❤

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  7. Good grief about your initial ear piercing experience, Pam. It sounds like this second piercing was more of a split second decision…possibly the best kind in these circumstances. I love the photo of the two smiles at the end. And, your Mom’s smiling nod. 💕

    Liked by 2 people

  8. So sweet, Pam, and bless you for carrying through with it. It’s something your family will remember and smile. I had my ears pierced by an MD when I was in college – I tend to bleed, which he didn’t believe, until he did the first piercing. Blood everywhere. I still laugh thinking about it!

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  9. I don’t mind another pierce in my ears but a tattoo… NEVER…for any kind of love or sentiment! And that reminds me of Saki’s wonderful story – ‘The Background!’ Your lovely grand daughter is looking as awesome as her granny in that picture. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. This is such a wonderful story. I’m sure your mom loves the new earrings on you. The photos of the grandchildren are so beautiful and filled with so much love. My kids all have great relationships with their grandparents even when we might be having a rough day here at our house, and I have a feeling your grandkids will have lovely relationships with you, too, as they grow older. So glad you made it to OC this year! xo

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    • I hope my house will always be a “safe haven” for my Grands. As my guy says to me often “they like you because you don’t have to parent them.” 🙂 My mom was a wonderful grandmother and played cards/board games endlessly with my kids. I’m using her as a role model.
      I SO enjoyed our meet up at OC. Wish it could happen more than once a year. ❤

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    • Sorry to hear that, Robbie. My college roommate was allergic to gold (horrors) but could (and still does) wear silver/silver-backed earrings. Well, at least no one will try and convince you to get an ear piercing!

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  11. Love this!! What a cool grandma you are!! I myself only had my ears pierced in my 30s… what can I say – afraid of the pain?! What a wimp, eh?! But after that I became addicted to earrings! I especially loved finding great ones at garage sales/estate sales/bazaars etc. So fun!
    But tattoos? Never, I’m a wimp again!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What a great pair of stories: or pair of chapters, perhaps. No tattoos or pierced ears for me. I love some of the earrings I see, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Of course, when I was in school, no one had their ears pieced. Odd now to think of a time when it just ‘wasn’t done.’ Pierced ears were for pirates; our earrings were clip-ons.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My mom had clip-ons when I was young, and she let me play with them as well as my grandmother’s large bulky clip-ons. They HURT! But yes, back then only gypsies or pirates had pierced ears. Oh how times have changed!

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  13. Great story, especially knowing that your granddaughter suggested it and you followed through, despite your reservations. I think this puts you in the running for “Coolest Grandma.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha. It’s great to be cool. Upon reading your comment, I suddenly thought, “Hmmm, when Sophie is 16 is she going to encourage me to buy a red convertible two-seater for the two of us to drive around in? And hmmm, maybe I would! 🙂

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      • I’d like to see that. Somehow I know that you will find the right balance between love and discipline. We both know we’re not doing kids any good by giving them whatever they want.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Absolutely! At our house we have “coletta charm school’ (my guy’s last name) and each of our grandkids are quite aware of proper table and house behavior. Actually, we do a similar thing with our granddogs when they visit. No kid or dog can get away with anything at our house. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  14. Love this post Pam ! Your mom in her mid eighties wanted to get a tattoo?! That’s pretty interesting and rather unusual. I can understand your reluctance at the time, especially a heart one, but can understand the regret as well. How awesome you got another chance just in a different format? Bravo that this time, you went for it!

    Peta

    Liked by 2 people

    • My mom tried rollerblading with my kids when she was in her 70s. She was firm in the adage “age doesn’t matter” and lived a wonderful life that way until her late 80s. A lifelong lesson there for me that I know you appreciate. Her (silent but encouraging) voice leads me on. ❤

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  15. Ah, what a sweet story! To be honest, I would go for another piercing over a tattoo … I don’t like pain at all ;-). I was 15 when I got my ears pierced by a cousin who did the whole ice cube and needle procedure. I didn’t have any alcohol but I was allowed to say a number of four-letter words without reprimand.

    It’s wonderful that you have such a great relationship with your granddaughter.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glad the ‘four letter word” exclamations helped you through the “ice cube” procedure! Fascinating that a number of us went through that to get earrings – mainly because it wasn’t as easy to get it done like it is now for teens. I think most of us here are on the same page as “no pain – no tattoos.” So far, no one has commented on how much they love their tattoo! ;-0

      Liked by 1 person

  16. This story pierced my heart in the best way possible, Pam.

    I get the impression you didn’t have to stew about getting the second piercing because it was your grand-daughter’s idea. Yes, “The things we do for love!”

    And, yes, your mother did smile approval. ((( )))

    Liked by 3 people

    • And to add to your great comment, Marian, if my mom was with us, whether at age 60 or 90 – she would have insisted on getting HER ears pierced (for a second hole) as well! I think I didn’t “stew” about the idea too much because my mom gave me a part of her feistiness when she passed. I thank her every day. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  17. A great story. Your mom will love it. many years ago my mom and my daughter decided to get their ears pierced. Thye begged me to join them but I refused. Later they both had problems with their piercings and let them grow over. I was never sorry I didn´t go through with it. We all laughed about it later. xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • The best part of your piercing earring experience is that it became a fun memory for the three generations of women in your family. I did know a few college friends who had infections from their piercing and never got to wear earrings. I think that happens much less frequently now with the new “stapler” method. 🙂

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  18. My mother was in her 50s when I took her to get her ears pierced. First time. She never did it as a young woman. I already had two sets and she always admired my earrings. She hated how the clips would ache. She had to wait until they were finished doing a 6 year old girl, then my mother sat in the chair. They punched them. Afterward I asked how it was. She said it hurt but after the little girl didn’t cry she couldn’t even yell ouch! That was my mom!

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  19. I guess it’s unanimous! We all love this sweet story about your very hip and daring mother. I understand she wanted you each to be marked as together forever but you were right to be protective of her at that fragile age. I’m not a fan of tattoos either. I still remember getting my ears pierced at 8 and the boys upstairs yanking on them. I love your earring collection! The right of passage with your granddaughter is such a bonding moment. She looks VERY much like you and probably her mother does too. Lucky girl. Stay safe over there. It’s like both coasts are saying “move inland”. Crazy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hoping YOU are safe and smoke-free, Marlene. The amount of rain we’ve experienced from the past two hurricanes has been significant. The ground is saturated and trees are uprooted. On the good news side – the grass and bushes and flowers are bright and vivid and practically glowing.
      I cringed at the idea of boys yanking at your earrings. I guess that’s a good reason to wait until college to get a piercing. Thanks for the sweet compliment about my granddaughter and me. I have such a good time watching her grow up – which of course is happening way too fast.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It takes a certain kind of courage to be a woman – getting ears pierced, bosoms tightened into undergarments, hair primped and curled (or straightened). Sigh. Keep your ears hole-free, but appreciate a good pair of earrings on a woman – of any age. 🙂

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  20. Good move! And what a good and loving cut-in-the-skin symbol to have between you and your granddaughter. Brilliant of her to suggest it. I probably also would have resisted the tattoo suggested by your mom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Both Sophie and i have vowed that we’ll only have tiny studs in that second hole, so we’ll have a good time sharing/comparing the ones we wear. Yes, bonded (by ears) for life. 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting, Nicki – always great to see you here. And I still think of your Vanuatu characters and the story!!

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  21. Yeah! Pam, there was no way you could say no to such a sweet suggestion from Sophie! 😀 You both look so happy and I totally get that you were holding their hands to soak up all their love – precious precious times! Sophie and you look great with your new (fake) diamond studs! She will now start her own collection of tinkering earrings to rival your own! Your mother would have smiled at the family scene of love and togetherness … and give you a gentle nudge of ‘got you there!’ Sending you hugs and love always but especially at this very difficult time of year. xx ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

      • I nearly did mention about my own visit to an earring piercing parlour when young! After weeks of nagging my friends had convinced me to have my ears pierced. We entered, were told to wait. Which we did for 15 minutes and then I took that as a sign to leave, quickly! To this day I’ve been too much of a wimp and stick with my clip-ones! I love your collection, their is a spiritual feeling around them! Hugs xx

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Over here, we actually get our ears pierced when we’re kids so I don’t even remember what it felt like, I’m glad though. I don’t like causing myself unnecessary pain too. And this was a lovely tribute to your mother 😊♥️

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  23. Oh, the things we do for love! And of course, you and your mother DO have mother/daughter tattoos…they’re on your hearts where they’ll be for eternity.

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  24. Your story is very moving, Pam. 💙 My mom would not allow me to have my ears pierced, either, so I did it at a store with a friend when I was in my 20s. When my mother saw me next she said the new earrings looked pretty. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! Sophie is so lucky to have a grandmother open to suggestions from the younger generation. I’m sure your mom is smiling, too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glad your mom relaxed once she saw you wearing earrings. Your story reminded me that after my mom saw my “college” pierced ears, she went to our town’s “nice” jewelry store and had her ears pierced too. We had the best time shopping for earrings together for years after.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Wonderful story of love and family, Pam. When my daughter (20 years old at the time) was diagnosed with a rare daunting disease, we got small matching tattoos, musical treble clefs because of our love for music. It is my first that I got when I was 50. Then I wanted to get one to represent my son, something small and outdoorsy. But since then, I’ve had some health issues that made me not want to tempt fate, so no more tattoos. I decided as an alternative to a 3rd ear piercing on my left lobe with his birthstone, an emerald. So I have 3 in that ear and 2 in the other. 🙂 I didn’t want 3 and 3. I feel balanced though. Isn’t that funny? What we do for love. 💗

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Lauren, I LOVE your tattoo/pierced earring story. In your case, I think I would have also gotten matching tattoos with my daughter. And I love the idea of a 3rd emerald piercing for your son. Hmmmm, my world (and ear lobes) are expanding…..Oh, and I you you are a VERY balanced woman. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Loved this story. I’ve loved wearing earrings and finding interesting ones when I travel. Having the piercing (and possibly the tattoo, though it’s not my thing either) is more meaningful when there’s a connection there. I got pierced ears when I was a teen. I got a third diamond one as a gift to myself when I turned 50 – something to make me feel young!

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a wonderful gift to yourself. I have a (big, BIG) birthday coming up next spring. Hmmmmm. 🙂 But mostly, each earring I wear has history to it, just as you comment here. I always buy a pair when I travel – I allow myself one new pair for the memory. And years and years later, when I wear those earrings, I remember precisely where I was and what the place was like. Isn’t that neat? Cheers to our earrings, Ruth! 🙂

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  30. I didn’t realize you’d lost your mother to Covid, Pam. I am so sorry to learn this, and I can assume by her request for the matching tattoos that she was quite a character. I’m sure it has been a hard year for you, but what loving and fun times with your grandchildren. I think you made a brave decision to go forward with the second piercing. You’ve created a lasting memory with your granddaughter if nothing more ever comes of it! And in this season of so much sadness and hardship, this is very special. I’m so glad you shared your story. It is really touching!

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    • Thank you so much for your comment, Debra. My mom was a feisty character and everyone who knew her loved her. She does live on in me and in her granddaughter and now her great granddaughter! My mom had her own wonderful display of earrings! 😍💖

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  32. Aww this is such a lively heartfelt story of family love through the generations. Love it! So sorry about your mum’s passing. This covid has been unbelievably cruel. Both my parents have survived but they are sadly not the same. Sending kind thoughts. ❤ xx

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    • Marje – I send my sympathy to you as well. All of us with elderly parents have suffered, watching them suffer in so many ways – lack of socialization being no small matter. I was unable to be with my mom the last year of her life, and each day was a heartbreaker for me. I know she’s released from pain now, but if not for Covid, she’d still be alive, showing off her earrings. 😉 Thanks for your beautiful thoughts – I send them right back to you. ❤

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  33. Pingback: A Piercing Experience – Mona Caussade

  34. of all your terrific stories, this is my fave to date, dear Pam ❤ perhaps in part cuz I worked piercing ears when I was 17 lol if you don't like it, it'll close up easily anyway, unlike – ulp – a tattoo… I have a few of those that hurt like hell to get & they were mere small dots used to map my getting radiation when I had breast cancer — hurt even worse to get them removed, so much so that I only endured enough sessions to remove them to where they're still faintly visible. your g-kids are truly fortunate to have such a loving & fun g-ma 🙂

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  35. Oh Pam, this is a great story and brings back so many memories. I got my ears pierced when I was 12 and my first fun earrings were Snoopy playing golf – I still have them, but have not worn them in about 50 years 😉 I also went through the needle and the ice cube piercing ritual in college, with a couple drinks beforehand, performed by my freshman hall mate – that was for the third piercing. Eventually I got my hair dresser to do one on the other side, but it was uneven and never really healed well (go figure – he had all the proper equipment). When my mom was about 55, I talked her into getting her ears pierced. It was during the summer, we were down the shore and we went to the Ocean County Mall in Brick in NJ. We should have paid attention to the ominous clouds above, but we didn’t. My mom was nervous, but I took her to the Piercing Pagoda, she sat on the stool and just then the power went out in the mall! She got them pierced when the lights came back on and LOVED having pierced ears – no more clip-ons!

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    • What wonderful stories/memories here, Barbara. Thank you for sharing them! High five to us “ice cube piercers,” right? 🙂 And isn’t it fun that you remember (and still have) your Snoopy (playing golf no less) earrings. So, how many earring piercings do you have in both ears? I don’t think I’ll get more than two on each side, but then again, my granddaughter is only 13. God knows what she’ll do next. 🙂 I promise I will NOT get a piercing any other place in my body – haha. Yay for your mom and her piercing at 55, in the dark. A wonderful memory.

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  37. Oh my–talk about overlaying fear with love! Kudos!!! I don’t think I would have been as brave. It’s so interesting…before coming over here I suddenly felt your mom’s energy so strongly. Another friend lost her mama yesterday but I kept thinking of your mom. And now here is this story. So precious. xo

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  38. I am late to this party – but better late than never. I have to confess to having a … challenging … relationship with tattoos, so when I saw the tattoo image I let the message slip down in my Inbox. It’s safe to say that it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be asking my daughter to get a tattoo with me! But I am happy for you and a piercing experience that is a joyful one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point, Arlene. By using a tattooed arm photo in the beginning, maybe I did turn some people off! I’m glad you returned to my post eventually. I’m learning to like my 2nd piercing! Granddaughter and I compare our ears now. 🙂

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  40. aww i just got chills Terri. Awww your sweet mom is smiling down. I’m a hold out a long with my one daughter as we both refused the “Georgakai” tatoo which is a lip and the state Georgia over it. It’s how my daughter explains her name to her 8th graders the first year of school. Think of a kiss and the state Georgia … Geaorgakis but it’s really Georgakas. That was a sweet moment with your girls and your brave mom! Sweet! I did the self piercing earrings with my mom actually and everyday we pushed a little more until if finally went through. I was older tho. I had a tradition when my girls got the periods we had a right of passage ceremony and they got to go and get their ears pierced and everyone brought earrings and a prayer for the occasion. It was like the red tent tho.. then everyone knew.. lol. 💖💖

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    • What a great idea for a “rite of passage” into womanhood! I wish I’d though of that. When my daughter got her period, I took her for high tea at the St. Francis in San Francisco. That was special, but having pierced ears is something your girls have forever. P.S. my daughter teaches 6th grade, and yours teaches 8th grade. Neat! Thanks much for your comment. xo Pam (Sorry, I posted this a while ago but it didn’t come as a reply to you. ;-0 )

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      • Hi Pam… ooh high tea sounds lovely and the St. Francis no less is such a decadent place to celebrate this milestone. She will remember forever!! I loved the idea because I think we need to celebrate these special times in our lives!!!
        Oh that’s very cool our girls both teach. So grateful to them both!
        Not a worry!! Today was the first time I’ve really had time to check… much love to you!
        💕❤️

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