MUSCLE SHOALS — When Barbara Moomaw’s 77th birthday was approaching this year, her husband of 56 years, Jimmy, conspired with his Washington Park Baptist Church family to celebrate in the safest way possible through a card drive.
Church friends and family put the word out about Barbara’s Jan. 23 birthday and the cards started rolling in.
At last count, Mrs. Barbara, as she’s affectionately known to friends, had collected 533 cards. However, that was before the next
day’s mail was delivered.
Some first- and second-grade classes at Webster Elementary made her cards, adding another 63 to the tally.
The total has risen daily since the word got out about a week before her birthday.
Jimmy Moomaw said his wife, who is dealing with Parkinson’s disease and dementia, hasn’t been able to be out and about the past 10 months because of COVID-19 concerns.
The couple’s frequent travel was likewise thwarted last year.
Jimmy considered a drive-by birthday parade, but feared it would be too cold for her to sit outside and enjoy it.
Jimmy initially wanted to keep all the cards until Barbara’s birthday and surprise her, but it soon became apparent that wasn’t doable.
“The mailman started delivering them on Tuesday before her Saturday birthday and there were so many, I knew I had to let her have them as they came in or it would take forever to get through them all,” he said.
“I joked that the mailman was probably thinking with all those cards that I’d died and she was getting sympathy cards.”
Moomaw went to the mailbox and found 169 cards addressed to his wife.
“She is well-loved by a whole lot of people,” he said.
The outpouring of love for Barbara came from all around including 11 states.
She received cards from her friends from Waterloo, where she attended high school; from co-workers from ECM from which she retired in 1995 as a secretary; and from countless people she’d taught during her 40 years as a Sunday school leader.
“I just can’t tell you why there was such a response,” Barbara said. “Jimmy never meets a stranger and has always gotten me involved with many different groups of people, so I guess that’s how I’ve come to know so many people.
“It has always been that when you see one of us, you see us both,” she said. “I couldn’t believe all these cards, and I read every one of them, more than once, actually.”
Cathy Puckett, a church friend of the Moomaws, said people were eager to send birthday cards to Barbara because “it seemed like a great way to give back a little for all her years of friendship and kindness.”
“To know her is to love her and we’re just thrilled that this brought her some well-deserved happiness on her birthday — and beyond,” said Cathy.