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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Party Memories, Old and New

Sometimes you need a few days to decompress.

I needed those few days after my Dad's 90th birthday party on Saturday. We had more than 40 people at That Old House, ranging in age from 19 months to 98 years old.

We had fun.

Lots of fun. But it was an emotional day.

The most moving moment -- my Dad (on the left) greeting his older brother Ted:

You have to love a 91-year old who still likes his beer. You go, Uncle Teddy!

The brothers hadn't seen one another in several years.

Yes, I cried. Who wouldn't?

Another highlight -- brother-in-law Bill bringing in one of the several birthday cakes,
so we could serenade the birthday boy:

(On the right in the lower corner, is Dad's 98-year old friend George. He is simply amazing.)

Now, what you don't see because no one has sent me a still picture yet . . . is Bill picking up the cake after the candle-blowing ceremony, and dropping it splat upside down on the table in front of Dad.

My brother caught it on video. For posterity, and maybe YouTube.

I took no pictures. Every time I thought to take one, the camera was not to hand.
When I finally got hold of it, the batteries were kaput. Bad blogger, that's me.

But I'm glad my sister-in-law Doris captured this moment:

That's 19-month old Mary, one of Dad's great-grandchildren, bonding with our dog Dion.
Dion knows that it pays to stick close to small children at parties. They drop food.

When my mother was alive, and before the dementia set in, she and I
always conducted what we called a party post-mortem on the day after any family gathering.

On Sunday, the day after Dad's party, I so wanted to be able to do this. My mother, who passed away in January of this year, had years ago lost the ability to have this kind of gossipy chat, but I will always miss this ritual -- the what we did right, what we did wrong, who wore what, who said what, and what we'd do differently next time conversation. I really wanted to hear her say, "What a great party. Good job."

I guess I'll never get over wanting to hear that, will I?

She would have loved Saturday's noisy and happy gathering of family and friends. She adored my Dad,
and always made a big fuss on his birthday. So, to my sister Peggy, and to myself,
I'll step into Mama's shoes, and say, "Great party. Good job!"


I did a quick collage of after-party images.

Top row, left to right: the last of the stack of 45 silverware rolls in red and white napkins.
Coffee cups waiting to be put away in the breakfront. A tureen with roses from our own old-fashioned climber. A view into the dining room from the parlor, Happy Birthday banners still on the walls.
Bottom row, left to right: Leftover helium balloons. An extra chair visiting from the guest room. The tablecloths that were used for my Dad's table, with a cloth my Mom embroidered for me when I was still in high school; she wanted to do it in many colors and I asked for solid dark red; she agreed, bless her. And lastly, the coffee station -- minus the coffee urns! -- in the butler's pantry. And, Dion.

A Happy Rednesday to all. You can visit Sue at It's A Very Cherry World and see what other people are showcasing in RED. Click to go!

It's raining here in northern New Jersey, which is all right; we need it.
But when it's our dogs who are soaking up the drops . . . .

Anne took Dion for a walk, dried him off, and still ended up with this ragamuffin spaniel:

Well, he'll dry off and be fluffy again.
Eventually . . . Cass


  1. what a great post. Your Dad is such a handsome man! Hard to believe he is 90! How precious to have his brother and friend there. Sad about your mom and I know you miss her. Sweet memories.


  2. Awww! Your Father does not look 90! Glad everything went so well. What a wonderful range of ages in one family. I feel sure Mr. Dion just loved any morsel that hit the floor or a generous handout from a little one. :-D I just know your Mom was looking down and saying "job well done".:-D
    Take a deep breath - you did good!

  3. Great party, glad it finally got here. You did a wonderful job, and big haha for the cake spill. Now I'll play Mama for you. What was that guy thinking with his sunglasses on his head!?! Job well done, darlin'!

  4. Great post. You made me cry talking about your mother. Looks like a great time and I cannot believe how young the 98 years young ones look. I hope I can even get out of the bed at that age.

  5. Glad to read AND see that the party was a success Love the beer comment. That will be Mr. Ken at 91. :)
    Your Dad looked like he was enjoying himself!
    I know what you mean about missing your Mom.
    There are still so many moments when I'd like to talk to my Mom. It is getting easier after three years but it still is hard.

    Take some time to rest up after your wonderful party--You did good! :)


  6. Cass, I was thinking of you Saturday. I would have cried too and I'm absolutely positive your Mom would have said "GREAT job"! Look how happy your Dad looks- the pics are so sweet!
    xoxo Pattie

  7. How lucky you all are. Not many families get to celebrate 90th birthdays. And for there to be three gentlemen over 90 years of age, is simply amazing. At this point in their lives, I would imagine that neither you dad nor your uncle had much hope of seeing each other ever again. What a gift you gave to them.

    Obviously, I've never been to any of your previous parties, but this HAS to be the best one ever.

    Its way beyond a Great job!!

  8. "What a great party. Good job."
    Did you see the socks on Uncle Teddy and Dad with the brown pants??? ;-)

  9. I know what you mean, my first thought after any occasion, or good news is to talk over it with my Mum. We will always feel that. Your Dad looks great and the party was obviously enjoyed by all. Well done you!!

  10. Wonderful Job!!! Family gatherings are treasures and yours obviously was well planed, well attended, and was full of joy. Who could ask for more??

  11. Such and nice post and tribute to your Dad and late Mother. Thanks for sharing with us :)

  12. Looks like a fabulous party! Congratulations to you and your sister for organizing such a wonderful day for your dad and I hope you pass down the Party Post-Mortem to your daughters :)

  13. That looks like a great party - you did a great job! This party will go down in family lore - for another 80 years grandchildren and great grandchildren will talk about it when they gather. Well done!

  14. You certainly have longevity on your side! It looks like it was a wonderful celebration, filled with family, food and beer! Maybe that's the secret to your uncle's long life!
    Happy REDnesday!
    p.s. The cloth that your Mom embroidered is beautiful!

  15. Cass-What a wonderful day--cake splat and all! I used to call my mother every evening while I was cleaning up the kitchen. She has not been around to do that for over 20 years now (I can hardly even believe it) and sometimes I still think about calling when I'm loading the dishwasher :)

  16. What a great time. I know you know how lucky you are to have had this party and you can probably hear your Mom saying good job if you sit quietly with your tea cup and listen.

  17. I am just amazed at this party and how wonderful it was! You are good children!!! No doubt! And your Mom gave you that "Good Party, Great Job" I am sure! ANd I love your CKC pup! My brother has one and next week I get to babysit her...:)

  18. I loved this post and it sounded much like me and how I would feel and process it all. I still have my mom but miss my dad and his brothers. What a wonderful party you had for him. Thanks for sharing.

  19. What a wonderful party you gave for your Dad! What a beautiful post. It's so marvelous to see the happiness in his face in the pictures. If only we could all live to be 91 & happy!! Your mother would definitely be proud of you. xo

  20. my dear Cass, if you very quiet, I bet you can hear your mom saying, "great party", great job". I miss my Mom too, has it only been since January?? I think we need to understand that losing ones mom is very,very difficult and life will never be the same.


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