Now admittedly, I dropped the ball a bit on this one if you're a kind of person who likes to send cards or physical notes. BUT.  You still have a chance to participate.

We still have some time, and this might be something where all of us might want to say a little something.

You might not know this, but Mary McLaughlin's 80th birthday is coming up at the end of March.  And a lady named Marilyn has spearheaded a campaign from Sedalia to thank her for everything she's done over the years.  She's a friend of Mary and just wanted to do something to show her how much we appreciate her.

I mean, there a few names that come to mind when you think about Sedalia do-gooders. There are quite a few still in town, but Mary moved away to retire in Illinois.  Sounds idyllic after a long life of hard work, right? A lot of people have great memories of her as a friend, a boss, and as a business person in our area. I know I have one somewhat personal story.

Back quite a few years ago, my mother got very ill at a far too young age. She had ovarian, lung, and brain cancer all over about the course of a year. It was tough, of course. I'm sure a lot of you have similar experiences.  I'll never forget that last year we had, even if being a caretaker was harder than I can describe. And when she finally left, well.  A lot of us were affected.  I remember going downtown, driving by people who were outside doing yardwork, people who were running errands, people who were shopping...thinking "How can the world just keep turning? How can everyone act like this is just another day?" It  made me realize, our world had stopped, but theirs hadn't.

Of course I heard from tons of Sedalians who knew her or worked with her, and that was very comforting. We had her services at the McLaughlin Funeral Home.  Life eventually went on, although it was still with us (still is).  There were still very real world parts of the whole tragedy we were dealing with. And, well, I THINK (don't quote me on this) when Mary retired, she forgave all outstanding balances at the funeral home that were active at the time. I know my father was still paying for her services in installments (we knew it was coming but the actual ending was pretty sudden, within a month or so).  I remember him getting a non bill in the mail and we were just blown away. I don't know if it was a big deal everyone, but for us... that was a huge gift. It was just something to let us know that someone cared, and she showed it in a way that made a real difference in people's lives.  That they knew our world had stopped, and helped in the way that they could.

That sweetness, that generosity, that care... it just radiated from Mary. Or, as we should call her, Punky. You could ask anybody all around Sedalia, and I'm sure they'd have a story or two about Punky McLaughlin. I know I've heard quite a few over the years from various guests to KSIS.  She's just one of those bright lights that continues to guide us to do the right thing... with plenty of funny stories along the way.

Anyway, that brings me back to the project. Mary's 80th birthday is coming up.  Marilyn started a campaign, asking Sedalians to mail her cards and to leave notes in local businesses (places like Weller's Men's Wear, McLaughlin Funeral Chapel, the Sacred Heart Rectory) to tell Mary how much we've loved and appreciated her all these years. Marilyn is making a scrapbook full of cards called "From Sedalia, With Love" and is also going to be giving her a crystal biscuit jar full of the little notes (and your Facebook comments).

Here's where you come in.  While Marilyn's got a lot of cards....

https://www.facebook.com/mcbell64
https://www.facebook.com/mcbell64
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And more are coming... but you can always send one yourself. In fact, you have a few more days to do so - well.  You have all the time in the world really, but if you want your card to be in the scrapbook that's presented to Mary in early April, you need to get your card in by March 11th to Marilyn at 12910 Mackey St., Overland Park, KS 66213.

Having said that, if you can't get it in that soon, don't worry.  If they come in after that, Mary will get the cards, just not in the first round of the scrapbook (and it looks already like Marilyn will have a big project on her hands with what she's already got!).   And if you want to get your story to Marilyn, you can always leave a comment here and she'll put those in the jar with your name.

Now here's the Very Important Part.  While Mary isn't on social media, she does get letters and calls from people back home all the time.  DON'T TELL HER ABOUT THE PROJECT.  This is a surprise, you guys.  Surely we in Sedalia can keep one little secret, right?  Well, okay.  One BIG secret.  But imagine the look of joy on her face when Marilyn shows her the scrapbook and the jar! Imagine how it'll tickle her maybe even a year or two from now... what if Punky reaches in the jar on a rainy day for a bit of encouragement and sees your note?  She's going to remember the joy, the surprise, and most of all, the love from Sedalia that came through on that day and continues to come for years.

So.  Let's do this, guys. If you want to send in a letter, the address is above. You might check with those three businesses listed above to see if they're still taking notes. And if you want to be absolutely sure she gets your thank you, comment on the post.  Let's make this the best 80th birthday ever for one of Sedalia's finest.

Just remember... you can tell everybody...but NOT PUNKY.  Zip it up. Don't spill the beans to her, spill it in the card/note/comment.

Secretly yours,

Behka

CHECK IT OUT: These words were born in the '80s