Casey, you are 11 years old now, and as I have observed your actions lately with admiration, I wish to honor you with a tribute.

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Are you always the perfect son? No, but I am not always the perfect mother, and nobody’s perfect. You and I both know where we need to improve, but that isn’t what a tribute is for. I wish to highlight and acknowledge your deeds and accomplishments so I can show you my gratitude, admiration and love.

One thing that I love about you, Casey, is that if I need you, you are there. You don’t complain when I ask you to help with your brothers, or with cleaning, or with dinner. You do it, and you do it the best way you know how. I can’t express to you how much I need this from you, and appreciate it.

I am not a perfect mother, Casey. You know that, but whether it is picking you up from school late because I forgot it was early release day, or raising my voice when I shouldn’t, or getting overly irritated with you, you love me anyway. You don’t scold me or get angry with me. You are understanding, and express that you know I have a lot on my plate, or that you understand that being a parent it hard. Thank you for loving me.

You are a service-oriented boy too. When I suggest you write a note to someone, or make a craft, you do it willingly, and from the heart. As of late, you have even written me cards as an apology for something you did, or as a way to cheer me up. I cherish those cards, and will always keep them. You are willing to use your own money to buy gifts for family members too, and you carefully choose those gifts. What a thoughtful boy you are.

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I love seeing you develop your talents, skills and interests. I can’t tell you how much it pleases me to see how much you love what I love – instruments, singing, baking, acting. The first few months of the year, we worked on our second musical together, and you asked me to help you learn the ensemble songs so you could sing in the background. You were responsible and made sure you were on stage at the right time, and you did your best with your parts.

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You took part in a theater club this year too, and as one of your teachers, I was always impressed with your willingness to try anything. You gave your all to everything, from games, to improvisations, to singing. At our performance showcase, you sang “Out There” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame beautifully. It isn’t an easy song, but you made sure to analyze your character and try to show what he was feeling. Tears came to my eyes when you sang.

This year as you learned a new instrument, the trombone, you always wanted to play songs for me, and you impressed me with your skills at your band concert.

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You also did your best to memorize and perform “The Star Spangled Banner” for a group number at a recent Durham Bulls game. It made me smile to hear you practicing around the house, and I loved helping you practice too. Just a few days ago, you wanted to help me bake your birthday cake – you always want to help me bake. And going back to your service-oriented heart, you melted mine when you told me you set out the ingredients for me to make the icing. When I came downstairs later, I saw the ingredients lovingly laid out, and I smiled with adoration.

Your spirituality strengthens my testimony. I always tear up when you bear your testimony in church. When your teachers tell me how much you know about the scriptures, I am so proud of you, and I know it is true. Each night when we read together as family, you have comments and questions. You pay attention and want to learn. I can’t tell you how proud I have been of you lately as you have also begun to do personal scripture study before bed. I love it when you come to me and report what you have read. You will be a wonderful missionary someday – no, you already are.

School has always been a place you have excelled. I haven’t had to get on you about doing your homework or projects. You have your weaknesses in school, but overall, you are a good friend, someone your teachers love to have in class, and a really hard worker. Your final report card and EOG scores impressed me so much. You are a smart boy, but it isn’t just smarts that bring good grades. Dedication, motivation, high standards for yourself, team work, honesty, and humility are key elements too.

On the last day of school, you presented a project on homelessness in North Carolina at the Orange County Library. You clearly did your research, and your concern for the homeless was evident. You really want to help them.

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After school when you told me you want to help in soup kitchens, and really hold true to your word to help, you brought tears to my eyes. And when you said you wanted to use the money you would have received for your good grades to help the homeless, I was once again in awe of the goodness of your heart.

How wonderful is it that you love projects too, especially when you get to spend time with your dad or me. I love how you want to help in the garden, paint, or assist with other projects. Just this past Saturday, you jumped at the chance to help me build a bathroom cabinet. It was such a fun experience to spend time together, make mistakes together, and then fix them together. You have an eye for building, and your observations were right on. The finished product was awesome, and it is because you were building it with me.

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And finally, Casey, you are one affectionate young man. Your hugs, kisses and soft words can really calm a person. You know what gentleness brings peace, something that many people do not realize.

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Casey, I am so blessed to be your mother. Heavenly Father knew I needed you when I needed you, and you will always be one of the most special people in my life. I love you, my dear son.

Thank you for sharing!

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