collage of photos of Penny getting a birthday cake and the Becker family standing and holding papers and singing

Our Song for Penny’s 18th Birthday

Penny requested a song on the occasion of her 18th birthday. She also gave us instructions on the tune—we could refer to You Belong With Me or Our Song by Taylor Swift. (Watch a video of us singing here.)

We have a tradition in my family of rewriting songs for special occasions. It started when my grandfather wrote verses to honor (or humor) each family invited to their neighborhood Christmas party. It continued throughout my childhood when we rewrote various Simon and Garfunkel, Beatles, and other “Oldies” lyrics—when my dad turned 40, for my aunt’s wedding, for my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary.

So Penny requested a song in honor of her 18th birthday, and we got to work. We listed what was true of Penny when she was a toddler and refused to walk barefoot in grass and learned sign language before she used spoken words. We noted her current obsessions, like cheerleading and Ted Lasso. We brainstormed terrible lyrics and settled on adequate ones that hopefully convey something of the particular gift of her life. (See a clip of our singing below after the lyrics!)

Happy Birthday, Penny!

Our Song for Penny’s 18th Birthday:

You were one years old with your life to unfold
In the town of Lawrenceville
George welcomed you, Nana visited too
Kennedy boys at your window-sill
You started school, always loved the pool
And wanted your flip flops on
Music Together was fun, Signing Times begun,
But you don’t have a song
So we sing

Your song is family and friends,
Cheering at games and dancing in great shows
You don’t like to rush you like to take it slow
Cause it’s dark and it’s time for Lasso

Your song is the way you laugh
Heading off to school for Senior Project, Great Books, and math
And when you get home, fore you sing Amen
We will all ask God to play it again

You moved from Jersey up to Washington where you now have so much fun
Started to dance and we went to France
And came back to cheer for Gunn
You root for the Yankees with William and Marilee and your lovin dad
Read all the novels, stayed out of trouble
Broken ankles made you sa-ad


Teenage years arrived, you began to thrive
After Covid times were done
Movie night and PALS, Hope Heals with your gals
It all was so much fun
Worked at the PO, senior year to go
On your way to Watertown
We celebrate you, congratulate you
Eighteen–cheers all around


More with Amy Julia:

Penny Turns 18

When Love Shows Up

Our Visit to the Mass General Down Syndrome Clinic

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