You might already know that Mom turns 80 on her next birthday, which happens to be Tuesday. If you didn’t know that, you weren’t at the birthday brunch we gave her today. It was a surprise brunch, so if you weren’t invited, please blame us and not Mom. I’m sure she wishes you had been able to come and celebrate. We did the best we could.
Suzanne and John and I got there early to set up, but most of the work was done by the folks at the restaurant, which provided us a room to ourselves. (There were 16 or 17 of us, I believe.) Eric picked Mom up, not telling her where he was taking her. I think she thought they were headed somewhere out of town. By the time they got to the restaurant, all of the invited guests had arrived. We sang “Happy Birthday” to her as she walked in.
If she wasn’t surprised, then she hid it well. She was happy, though, to greet all of her friends (many of whom are even older than she is, believe it or not). She worked the room quite well, and I think she congratulated everyone on keeping the secret. These are people she sees all the time, and it must have been hard for them not to spill the beans.
Aiden and Kylie made their presence known, of course, and charmed everyone. When the two of them were hiding behind the lace curtains in the room, I caught Aiden’s eye. “Uncle Mike, I have to take a shower,” he said. Apparently the kind of curtain you can see through is a shower curtain. One of the presents Mom opened was a lint brush (a gag gift), which Aiden carried around the room and used to pound the walls, until he was advised against it. “I’m doing my job,” he told me.
After we had eaten and the tired children had left for their naps, we sat around the table talking. Mom told some of the stories from her childhood and beyond. Some of the stories are part of family myth and legend, but it seems every time she tells them they grow more vivid and real. Plus, of course, most of her friends hadn’t heard them before.
It was a wonderful, low-key outpouring of affection and respect for a life lived not only long but well. It was clear that Mom had touched people’s lives in ways that made them appreciate her, and made them want her to know that they did.