A lot of times when people reach 50 years of age they get paranoid about suddenly getting old — the moment of truth has arrived — and the realization that life is at least half over. I remember as if it were yesterday, thinking of my mother, Lucille Field Dowdle, and that one of her accomplishments was to have given me the foundaton to live a good life, which I regarded as no small matter. So I sat down and composed the following.

Dearest Mother,

On my 50th birthday (3/21/1978) I want to thank you for helping me live a life of some value and satisfaction by instilling in me as I grew up in your care:


Self discipline


Loyalty to family and to friends

Respect for my elders

An appreciation of beauty

A sense of personal worth

A love of and thirst for knowledge

An understanding and appreciation of honor and dignity in myself as well as others

The knowledge that what I amount to in my lifetime depends on me

A deep and abiding respect for truth and honesty

Faith in God as my personal savior

She called to say that when she first received my letter she sat down and cried, and then had it framed for all to see. She was as pleased with me as I was with her!

Frances Abbott Lyon

Mount Pleasant