surprising Mabel

With the passing of each of the last landmark birthdays, 70 years and then 75, I wanted to throw a birthday party for Mom but didn't.  This year, for her 80th, I finally got the job done.  And it was a surprise at that!

Once I decided that I absolutely had to do it this year, about six weeks before the date, I called my siblings and father to recruit their support.  Everyone enthusiastically agreed.

I'm the youngest of my mother's four children.  We are mostly an independent, quarrelsome and know-it-all bunch. Even so, we collaborated for this party; everyone came together to make it happen.  What better opportunity to prove ourselves than on behalf of our mother? 

I'm a big party thrower and proud of it, so I took the lead. My sisters and brother gladly let me and helped by coordinating different details: a guest list, addresses, party place, decorations, etc. and a key part:  setting up the surprise.  My brother told Mom that his oldest daughter would be playing her trumpet in a holiday music show at a nearby community center.  How perfect, eh?  You could count on Mom to be prompt for her granddaughter's music recital!

Dad, a lover of pulling pranks, took on the party planning with enthusiasm.  He played 007 sneaking into Mom's address book and calling me with phone numbers while she was in the next room.  He amped the drama level by complaining about the bad weather all day before the party, saying they should stay home.  (The event was less than a mile from their house.)

My mom is never the person waving in the air to get attention, but like anyone, she appreciates true gestures of love.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting the wheels in motion for this one.  

Here's how it went:

We watched these doors A LOT while anticipating Mom's arrival.
The look we were hoping for.
Mom figures it out; Dad's already crying.

Even though the snow storm made carloads of Mom's siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews turn back or stay home (which is a LOT of people), we had a wonderful turn-out and fantastic party.

Our cousin Christopher (from the east coast side of Dad's family), his wife Steff and his mother Lea flew in the night before for the occasion.  We had not seen Chris or Lea for 30 years (or even met Steff!)  Huge surprise!

Chris & his mom, Lea

Plus many friends... (I cobbled together a small selection of photos here from my brother, Steff and my own camera.)


See how Mom's pointing her finger? She playfully went around shaking it at everyone for conspiring.

Mom & Pam

Dinner was simple and elegant but of course, the fun part is when you bust open the cake!

We put together a 'card' that was a multi-page book of photos - of Mom from a baby to now but mostly of family.  People signed it at the party and we gave it to her at the end.

Dad made a sweet toast.

Mom this year.
Mom at 19
I think it's safe to say, the party was a big success.  Now what are we going to do next year?!


Laurie said...

What a wonderful story to read first thing this morning. Brought a few tears. Happy ones. You and your siblings did something that everyone wishes they could do for their parents and it looks from the pictures that it was a wonderful time for your family. Great job. Glad you did it! There is no way your mom is 80 years old. Seriously? And your dad, let me say, he looks like a wonderful father.

Betsy said...

What fun to actually see the photos, after hearing about the planning. I'd say that you and your sibs did your mom proud!

lrc said...

Beautiful! There is love and joy in every picture so all of the planning and covert operations (your dad is a hot mess) was definitely worth it.