On her 90th birthday Monday, Doris Goertz of Lake Stevens and her daughter, Rachel O’Brien, read some pretty hilarious notes as they go through some of the 186 or so letters and cards Goertz recieved after O’Brien recruited friends to send them snail mail instead of email. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

On her 90th birthday Monday, Doris Goertz of Lake Stevens and her daughter, Rachel O’Brien, read some pretty hilarious notes as they go through some of the 186 or so letters and cards Goertz recieved after O’Brien recruited friends to send them snail mail instead of email. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

She’s got mail — lots and lots of actual snail mail

For her mom’s 90th birthday, Rachel O’Brien recruited friends to send actual cards through the mail.

On her 90th birthday Monday, Doris Goertz’s letter carrier brought 46 cards. She added them to a big basket of birthday wishes, next to a pile of still unopened greetings. When C+C Music Factory’s hip-hop lyrics “Everybody dance now!” came blasting from one audible card, she let out a surprised laugh.

“Today she’s at 186 cards,” said Rachel O’Brien, the daughter responsible for her mom being showered with birthday mail.

Goertz, who lives in Lake Stevens, has had an avalanche of snail mail before. For her 85th birthday, she received about 90 cards. When a half-dozen cards were delivered about a week ago, Goertz said, “the mail lady said ‘And so it begins.’ ” It was the same mail carrier who delivered to her Frontier Village area apartment when she turned 85, Goertz said.

O’Brien, of Marysville, started it all for her mother’s milestone birthdays. She asked relatives, her friends on social media and co-workers to send the greetings. “I put it on Facebook and people started sharing it,” said O’Brien, 64, a nurse who works in the mother-baby unit at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue.

A lively woman who looks a decade younger than her 90 years, Goertz celebrated a day early when all six of her children visited Sunday.

“They’re the best kids in the world,” Goertz said.

Just-turned-90 festivities aren’t over yet. Starting Saturday, O’Brien and her sister, Mary Coonrod, and their husbands are taking Goertz to the island of Hawaii for 10 days. “She’s taking something off her bucket list. She chose the ‘Big Island,’ and the chance to sit on a live volcano,” O’Brien said.

In her cozy apartment Monday, Goertz shared cards that arrived in recent days, and talked about the era long before email. “During World War II, we got mail twice a day,” said Goertz, a widow whose husband, William, died in 2008.

Among the touching notes she received was one from a childhood friend of O’Brien’s. “Dear Mrs. Goertz,” it said. “I will always remember your kindness and affection when Rachel and I were little girls. We never really know the impact of our actions on children, but I want you to know you made a real impression on me. Happy birthday, with much love.”

Goertz chuckled about one card showing a kitty crawling out of a suitcase. It’s signed “Dolly” — her cat.

The wife of one of her grandsons is a teacher’s aide in Weiser, Idaho. Birthday greetings, written on notebook paper, were sent by “the whole fifth grade” in Weiser, Goertz said. “They want to know about World War II and the Great Depression. One asks, ‘Do you know what the Dust Bowl was like?’ ”

Her favorite note is from a 15-year-old, her youngest grandson, Stephen Goertz. “He wrote about the joy of the family,” she said. With her warm manner and easy laugh, Goertz spoke of a life that has brought challenges along with the joys.

Born in Tennessee, Doris Ruth Seegraves was a child of the Depression. After moving to Michigan, her father worked for Pontiac — just one day a week during the hardest years.

Four years before her husband of 57 years died at Marysville Care Center in 2008, he was out walking near their home when he was struck by a car while crossing Highway 9. His injuries were so severe he lived the rest of his life at the care center.

Before moving here to be near children, the Goertzes lived on Seattle’s Phinney Ridge, then in Oakville in Grays Harbor County. Doris Goertz taught at Green Lake Christian School. Later, she operated a child care center at home. William Goertz was a printer before retirement.

At 90, her love extends beyond family. She has made hundreds of baby quilts for infants born at the hospital where her daughter works, calling her handiwork “prayer blankets.”

“I couldn’t have asked for a better mom,” O’Brien said. Looking over piles of colorful, sparkly and hand-lettered cards covering her mother’s table, she added, “This just shows how many people love you, Mom.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@herald net.com.

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