I’m not a professional event planner, but I know some very talented event planners and have worked on some pretty large scale events. So it’s not surprising that when it came time to plan my mom’s 80th birthday party, I was thinking large scale. Nothing elaborate, but something more than our usual family barbeque.
My sister was perfectly happy to stick with the usual and add in a few of mom’s closest friends, but our mother isn’t the type of person to only have a few close friends. Logically, she’s going to have a lot of friends just because she’s been accumulating them for 80 years, but her ability to make and keep friends goes well beyond the logical. She has friends from childhood, high school, work and church. She has family – LOTS of family! She genuinely loves all her friends and family, and does her best to stay in contact with them all.
It became apparent in the early planning process that the guest list could get out of control, and quickly.
“Mom, only invite those who legitimately call you Grandma Dee, not those who only do so out of respect.”
“Really, Mom? When was the last time you spoke to that person?”
Several invitees had to decline due to weddings, family reunions, etc., but we still had close to 100 people present to celebrate mom’s milestone birthday. All three of us kids were there with our spouses, five of her six grandchildren, nine of her 13 great-grandchildren, her two siblings and many of their children and grandchildren.
Her relationship with God is the most important thing in her life, but following a close second is family and coming in third is music. She was thrilled to have all three rolled into one, as my siblings and I sang “Until Then.” We also got her on video playing her signature songs, “Meeting in the Air” and “Goodbye, World, Goodbye.” Boy, those 80-year-old fingers can still run up and down the ivories fast and flawlessly! We also got an impromptu group of family to sing a somewhat less than perfect rendition of “I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.”
Her party is not what I want for my 80th birthday, however, it’s exactly what she wanted (okay, she would have liked every single family member present, but that just wasn’t possible). She’s still overwhelmed with the notes and cards, and just that people took time out of their busy lives to be part of her special celebration.
To still hear her talk warmly about the day nearly three weeks later makes us happy. She’s done so much for all of us through the years, it’s the least we could do for her.