A wise woman once told me "age is mind over matter-if you don't mind it doesn't matter". Great advice since I now belong to an elevated position and am now a member of the 80 plus club.
As it is said in Fiddler On The Roof , "I don't remember getting older, whey did they?" That refers to my own children and how they have blossomed in front of my eyes so beautifully. They now have their families blossoming in front of their eyes. But to me, they will always look as if they were still children at play.
So these children of mine threw me an 80th birthday party filled with atmosphere, tears, words of all kinds, surprise gifts and plenty of hugs and kisses to last a while. I was told not to show up until I was called, then one of my daughters would escort me to the birthday party.
The building in which I presently reside has a beautiful gathering room for parties of all kinds. The call came, "Dad you can come now", and with that my daughter and I walked down the long hall to the party. As we got closer I heard on the piano, "Variations on a Theme of Paganini" written by Johannes Brahms (Op. 35). There I said it in one breath. Someone told my son who is a concert pianist to play this as it is my favorite melody and play it with gusto. (This is not him playing it here in this video but I add it for affect.)
As I entered the room of course a chorus of happy birthday began and the hand shaking, hugs and kisses began as well. My family was there as well as many of my friends who helped to celebrate my birthday. My 3 adult children, 6 grand children and 2 great grand sons. My daughter in law prepared a meal fit for a king, of course, of Grecian chicken (my favorite) that was fabulous with all the trimmings. Then after dinner the surprises began.
They set a chair for me near the piano while my son and his former music professor Dr. Hal played the trumpet. Soon I started to wonder if this was my eulogy or my birthday party. My daughters wrote words that brought tears to these old eyes. My son played an original composition in my honor. And my grandchildren chipped in with their words.
Now I was extremely proud of Max, my son in law who said words that any father in law wants to hear. After each talk there were tears, more hugs and more kisses. My older daughter knows I like Portillos Italian beef sandwich as I eat it on every trip to Chicago. So she had a tub of beef with the trimmings packed into individual containers so then can be frozen. Now if that wasn't enough the topper of the evening was a gift that had me in disbelief for a moment.
For the readers of my blogs I always end with "memories light the corners of my mind" as sung by Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were. And with that I am handed a poster with her picture and a ticket attached to see her in person October 26 in Chicago at the United Center. My daughter (writes the Chicagonow blog When You Put it That Way) who gave me the ticket said "She'd better sing The Way We Were for you!"
What a day! What a thrill to see friends and family gathered for a joyous occasion. For a moment we blessed the memory of those who we've lost; my wife Millicent, my son in law's mother, Billie Jean and a dear friend, Nancy Brace. Their spirits and souls were with us.
So thank you, thank you to everyone who truly made a memory that will forever light up my mind and my eyes with electric lights.
See you at my 81st..You're all invited.