130,000 to 1

Those are the odds of having the same birthday as your grandma and your mom.  And that’s me, defying the odds.

My Paternal grandmother Jessie May (Gifford) Morris was born October 14, 1891.

My mother, Kathleen (Norton) Morris Cox was born on October 14th, 1937, in Manchester, England.

I was born October 14th, 1960 in Davenport, Iowa.

Jessie May was my Dad’s mom, she was wife to Ralph and mother to the Morris tribe, all 12 of them. My Dad was the youngest and only knew his mom for 17 years and then she was gone. Dad always said she died of catalepsy, which of course I doubted was real. I was wrong. She passed away in 1949, Dad graduated high school in 1950. Jessie Gifford’s family can be traced back the 1400’s in England, so it seemed only fitting that my Dad’s military career took him to England and he found a British Bird of his own.

Kathleen (Norton) Morris Cox was born in Manchester, England to Arthur and Winifred Norton, the youngest of three Terry, Brian and Kathleen. She was the apple of her father’s eye and I am sure made it all the more difficult when she decided to go across the pond to the USA. She has always shared the story of the day her dad took her to the train station. He wouldn’t tell her not to go, he just paced back and forth jingling the coins in his pocket. He told her she could always come back, she did but only a few times over the years. She arrived in Iowa in 1957 and my Father proudly showed her the “downtown”  to which my mother responded “Is this all there is?” Remember she was from a large industrial city, my Dad was from Indianola, IA.  Davenport in 1957 was a big city to my Dad.

My mom has always been a hard worker and I am sure has passed that trait onto us all.  She worked for 30 years at Strombeck Manufacturing and not a day goes by that the scent of wood doesn’t transport me back to my childhood. I always remember my mom coming home from work and her dark curly hair with those frosted 60’s bangs would have sawdust clinging to the curls. It was a beautiful scent. During her time at the factory my mother was a union representative and a fighter for the good cause, she often had clandestine meetings with Union Leadership ( in my mind always in a seedy location filled with danger and intrigue) all in the name of the fair terms for her union family. Our own Norma Rae. After the factory closed she went to work on a riverboat for 15 years and gained yet another family. And her last job was at a church, where she attends to this day. Although retired, she still works. at living. She is one of the most alive people I know. She is  walks 45 minutes a day is Facebook savvy and is always open to learning the newest app from her 13 year old great grandaughter. Her curiosity about life never ends, we should all be so lucky remain engaged for a lifetime.

My mom is something special, at 80 she is the person I want to be when I grow up. Alive and never slowing down.  She loves live music, always has since her childhood in England. During the summer months she has a route of live music venues where she can be found 4-5 days a week, sipping an adult beverage and tapping her toes.  And an each one she has friends, and if she doesn’t come with friends she certainly leaves with new ones.  Even at 80, she is feisty ,flirty and a force to be reckoned with.

I arrived October 14th, 1960, barely into the wee hours of the morning. I was 10 days late and a whopping 10 lbs 5 ounces, which for my 4’11” mother was a “bloody beastly” birth. I was put into an incubator due to fluid in the lungs, which my mom honestly observed “you didn’t look sick ,you filled it up top to bottom!”

It’s an honor to defy the odds with these two women, and mom is definitely one in a million!

Happy 80th Birthday!

Until Next Time,





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