I just enjoyed a birthday last week and realized again how lucky I am, we are, for living in this great country where we can form bonds of friendship that endure throughout our lives. Birthdays are so welcome when we are younger and yet when I was younger, my birthday was celebrated very few times.Now that I am married Grammy makes sure I get a good old fashioned party at least once every ten years or so.
I remember when I turned thirty. Grammy threw me a surprise party at her aunt’s home. She conned me into going over there as a stop over to her taking me out to a nice quiet birthday dinner in Dallas. We stopped in, walked through the house and 30 of my friends screamed SURPRISE!!!! Augh!! Once I could breathe again, I began to enjoy the evening.
When I turned forty, Grammy, with the help of my sister, arranged a similar party but without the surprise so that my heart might continue beating. This party had many of the same faces but she also included a blackjack table for fun. It was also a big hit and pappy’s partys became a decade event.
Last week she erected a tent in our backyard, cooked a brisket and had Claire, my oldest daughter make me a DVD of my life in a 10 minute presentation. It was complete with pictures, subtitles, and music. It was really quite fantastic. Steven Spielberg move over! I, Pappy am hardly ever awed by anything once I turned the ripe old age of 50, but this party was really something. She even had my friends send me memory cards of their favorite memories of past experiences with me to enjoy after the party.
For about a month before the party Grammy began her evil birthday party plan. She got all the family together first for pictures for my office and home for my primary gift. Then she went to my father’s house to get pictures of me as a child to help make the DVD. Next she created a cool invitation theme, “Let the Good Times Roll” and she was well on her way.
We have a large patio in our backyard and she covered it completely with a tent, brought in tables and chairs, and even had a banner made of me as a kid driving in the soap box races. Finally the time had come, the party was all set and the guests began to arrive. My whole family was there and friends going back to grade school days. My old work buddies and wedding party in full were in attendance.
Pappy’s past was a middle class good upbringing with humble beginnings. I was taught to not draw attention to yourself unnecessarily. I was taught good manners and a sense knowing your place. Now, try have a big party when you are suddenly the center of attention. It’s a darned hard thing to take. Hardly having any time to go from one friend or family member to another, having broken conversations and pulled and tugged upon doesn’t come easy to this Pappy.
Before we cut the cake Grammy and the girls had me come into the house to view the DVD with everyone. As the DVD played, I began to realize how many people my life had touched over the years. I noticed around the room there were a few tears along with laughter. I felt much better suddenly when I knew the party wasn’t all about me, It was all about us! We sat in the den and watch 40 years of memories of family and friends go by. We held each other emotionally for a lifetime in that 10 minutes.
So you ask me, about my Birthday Gift? My gift was to see for a brief moment in time that my life of family and friends has been overwhelmingly amazing. The gift of love and joy that filled my heart and burst over to my friends and family during the viewing. It was truly one of the few self-actualization moments in my life and it rushed over me like a tidal wave.
They called for a speech, but I was speechless. All Pappy could say was “I’m just overwhelmed”. “Thank you all for being in my life and helping me along the way”. They all understood. They knew in their hearts as did I, that there it all was. It was perfect.
Perfect for Pappy.