My Birthday PartieS
That's right, plural. My dear wife and family, deciding it would be futile to surprise me, sneaked up on me before my natal day, on Thanksgiving to be precise, and with three children, accompanied by one spouse and two spices, in the company of all eight grandchildren, sat me down after the pumpkin and apple pies, sang me a song, and somehow found a gift for the guy who has everything. Barbara engineered this celebration and the two others, the second on December 17th, the no surprise surprise, a catered affair for family, friends, and near neighbors, at which the songs were reprised, the sweet lies about me repeated, and the 50th wedding anniversary Powerpoint, slightly updated, on continuous play on my computer; and the third, dinner out at a local steak house with all the residents of 75 Fox Chase, plus a sister-in-law. Well, actually there was a fourth occasion, arranged by said sister-in-law, lunch at a riverside restaurant in Farmington down the slope from Miss Porter's.
At my age I have the right to cluck a bit, about the creativity of my posterity, how it was on full display. That's what this posting is mostly about, not the old man, but what the Lord hath wrought through him and sometimes in spite of him, through those who call him Bob, Dad, Pa, and Poppy. A Norwegian proverb, Google tells me (more appropriately than Google knows), that "a much loved child has many names." Okay, add Bobby to the list. Here is evidence, of the love and the creativity.
Beginning with Thanksgiving Day afternoon:
The no-surprise surprise party followed three weeks later, on Saturday, December 17th, again at 75 Fox Chase Lane, in the afternoon through early evening, including a catered dinner, and, of course, a birthday cake..
Guests were specifically requested to bring no presents; but who pays any attention to that admonition? I spent hours (happily) writing personal notes to gift givers for, among many things, cashews, wine, beer, books, and candy. One gift has now been mounted on the wall beside my recliner in the den.
Even the invitations were artistic. By Betsy, of course.
There was a little speechifying. Roy Jacobsen, a pre-teen child when I arrived in Brooklyn in 1956 and now a retired United Methodist minister, told a story about his pastor's embarrassing predicament in the pulpit one Sunday morning. He also saluted the old pastor as his mentor. The mentor returned the compliment by describing Roy as one he knew to be destined for the pastorate, by reason of his deep and detailed interest in people.
A reminder of the 80th looks back at me as I look at TV, a poster with an acrostic tribute to the old man. It is the creation of sister-in-law, Eleanor Tener, and her girls, Beth and Sharon.
On the natal day itself, December 21st, alternately described as "the darkest day in my mother's life" and "the day after which everything turned brighter," we dined on filet mignon at a Fleming's, a local steak house that occupies what once was the town's Board of Education. The steak was delicious and pricey. The ambience, for all the noise and chatter, comparable to a full house at Madison Square Garden. We had fun and our fill, and laughed often later at the choice offered us immediately after being sat at our table: "Which color napkin would you prefer, white or black?"
I'm already gearing up for the next round of birthday parties, in December 2091.