Her last birthday wasn’t a surprise party, you know, where people jump and yell, but it startled me all the same.

It happened as I perused through some photos this morning. They weren’t “named,” but were marked as “IMG” with a number following. I looked through the list, having no idea what they were. As I clicked on one about the middle of the list, an image of my mom popped onto the screen.

“Oh,” my heart squeezed.

There she sat in her blue dress, one she made without a pattern. That’s how Mom did things, without patterns or instructions. She crocheted beautifully, and when we were out in the stores, she’d hold an item in her hand and count rows. Once home, she’d take her hook and thread and duplicate it. What a remarkable talent.

I stared at the photo that captured her sitting, pointing toward her great-grandson, Miles. It encapsulated her love for little ones, and her love for life. At ninety-six, she hadn’t changed. I could almost hear her voice, and my eyes filled as my mouth trembled.

It was her last birthday. No one knew it would be the last time for happy birthday wishes, but it was.

I stared at the wonderful moment captured through the eye of the lens. Snap. Snap. We do it all the time, never knowing when the last snap will come. Will it be theirs, or ours?

I’m grateful I was startled by this non-surprising birthday photo this morning. It moved me from this moment to the one in August 2010, six months before Mom went to be with our Heavenly Father.

I wonder, is she taking any photos now?