As I mentioned, yesterday was my mother’s 80th birthday. She’s had some recent medical issues (thus my current extended and unplanned trip to Vermont) so we had to celebrate at the facility where she’s receiving treatment, but celebrate we did!
The facility was fantastic in helping us get the party arranged and letting us decorate a conference room.
My brother had a laptop and monitor set up to display a slideshow of family pictures, and a small DVD player let us show the 8mm family movies that we’ve transferred.
Two of my brothers were there, as well as The Long-Suffering Wife and my brother’s wife. One of my nieces was there with her kids and husband, one of Mom’s grandchildren was there from California, and several of Mom’s friends from town came. In addition, one of my brothers had come in from Texas for several days last week (even though he couldn’t stay for the party) as did one of my sisters from California (ditto).
Mom had her hair and makeup done and got duded up to make sure that everyone knew who the Birthday Girl was. We also brought in her dog, Lucy, who was very well behaved and sat on Mom’s lap through the whole affair. (For the record, Mom really was having a good time – she wasn’t nearly as horrified as this picture makes her look!)
Putting all of that high-tech equipment to good use, we usually had at least three Skype or FaceTime connections going so relatives across the country could say hello. We talked to our two daughters in California, my niece’s kids at the beach in California, and got a phone call from Mom’s brother in South Dakota.
Finally, my NASA Social experience came in handy as I was able to post pictures and events as they happened (more or less) on Twitter and FaceBook. This in turn got a dozen or so of Mom’s nieces from all over the country sending in stories to share and birthday greetings.
My brother, Mark (on the left), and I gave Mom a tremendously touching and personal birthday present. For nearly forty years we’ve kept Mom confused about which of us likes apple pie and which of us likes cherry. (Our family has more than a few running practical jokes going.) Basically, no matter what Mom thinks is correct, we’ll claim it’s the opposite. Sometimes we’ll switch several times during an event like Thanksgiving.
For her 80th, we told her which is truly our favorite. I like apple, Mark likes cherry. (Really, really!) It’s easy to remember, because “A” comes before “C” and Paul was born before Mark, so “Apple” = “Paul” and “Cherry” = “Mark.” Simple! (Or is it the other way around, because “M” comes before “P“, so “Apple” = “Mark” and “Cherry” = “Paul?”)
If Mom seems to be groping for the appropriate word here, it’s “bullshit!”
Of course there was cake, and candles to be blown out. The coolest part of the whole day was when we sang “Happy Birthday” and Mom sang along. She may have problems speaking right now, but her singing is pretty darn good! Then we had candles to be blown out, perhaps with a bit more technological help.
Even the little kids did a great job of making sure that Nana was smiling and enjoying herself. This is Rose and Bella, two of my niece’s daughters, doing either the Disney Princess or the Alien Monster look (could go either way) with Nana.
Mark was nice enough to take a picture which finally captured my true inner self. (Don’t say you weren’t warned.)
We’re sure than Mom slept really well last night, but she was in good spirits this morning, having apparently survived the ordeal. If nothing else, the day proved that she’s still got that “Mom look” and eye roll down pat. (But she’s grinning while she does it.)
Love you, Mom!