The Big Nine-Oh


My mother was born on October 29, 1918, in New York City. Ninety years ago today.



The big day is almost anticlimactic. She's been visiting my husband and me for the last week and will be here through Sunday. But we are all glowing from the celebration my sister and I planned for over a year, which took place last weekend. Most of Mom's grandchildren and great-grandchildren came to Wisconsin from different sections of the US: New York, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, and Colorado. Upon arriving in town, most of us converged into someone's two-room suite at the Comfort Inn, which was turned into a swelteringly warm hospitality suite as people met and greeted while we waited for everyone else to arrive (most of the guests arrived within just a few hours of each other) so we could make a group appearance at our house, where Mom watched CNN, unaware that her entire family, including her sister, were gathered less than two miles away.
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I'm happy to say that the weekend went off beautifully. Thirty-two people from 8 months to 92 years convened to give Mom a birthday she'll never forget. From the time we yelled "Surprise!" in our basement early Friday afternoon to the time people began heading home Sunday, everything was perfect. (If you heard a squeal around 1PM Central Time on Friday, it was my mother seeing her older sister, who'd traveled from New York for the occasion.)
The majority of the family stayed here at the house (one of my nephews pitched a tent in the back yard), and we all pitched in to get food and cook it. Fortunately, it was warm enough to barbecue and for the kids to play outside. It was like a big pajama party, with people sleeping virtually everywhere: In my office, in the upstairs family room, in the living room, the great room, and all over the basement. Great-grandchildren made fast friends with their second cousins, with my good-natured baby grand-nephew being passed around like a joint at a 70s party and the 2-year-old and 3-year-old lovingly cared for by older cousins like treasured baby dolls.
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Saturday was a free day for everyone, and whether people went down to Chicago to explore or stayed in the area, everyone made it back in time for the dinner hosted by my siblings and me. After dessert we all shared memories of Mom, read notes from people unable to attend (both of which made several people, including the guest of honor, wipe their eyes), and played a trivia game I dubbed "All About Eva" (Mom's name). I divided the grandchildren into three teams, and I was frankly amazed by how much they knew about my mother's life. It just goes to show that kids pay attention . . . and they ask questions. We got awfully loud, but that's why restaurants have private banquet rooms. Then we came back to the house for a slide show celebrating both my mother's long life and that of the family she and my father created.
In honor of my mother's milestone, I present some of those photos, some of which include my grandmother, father, and siblings. Happy Birthday, Mom!
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We'll take her to dinner tonight, making sure we're back before that much-ballyhooed half hour purchased by Barack Obama, of whom Mom is a raucous supporter. Like so many of us, she hopes to see history made next Tuesday . . . another marvel she has gotten to witness in her 90 years.






























6 comments:

Sean D. Young said...

Wow!! I love family gatherings, but what I love even more is the old pictures from back in the day. Bettye, you're mother was beautiful when she was young. She has aged so gracefully. She doesn't look like she's 90 years old.

You know what would be a good idea is to do a pictoral DVD set to music of her life and family. Let me know if you want to do it. I'll call you so we can talk about it. I've done 10 in the last year.

PBW said...

Happy Birthday to your mom! Wow! She looks amazing. Hmmm... maybe 90 is the new 20!!!!

I loved the photos. Thanks for sharing her celebration!

Lori said...

Black and White pics from back in the day are the best, aren't they? A big happy birthday to your mom.

My grandfather turned 91 earlier this year. I'm surprised he hasn't called me and asked me if I've voted yet (smile). Our elders know how to keep us honest, don't they? Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Anonymous said...

Bettye,
Sounds like a wonderful celebration. Wishing Mom many more. She looks great! (Love the "All About Eva" title.)--Reon :-)

bettye griffin said...

Thanks for your good wishes, all!

Sean, we actually did a DVD. When my in-laws had a family reunion in 2006, Bernard made one for each branch of the family. My brother-in-law made one for Mom (since she lives with them and they've got all her pictures), but unfortunately it didn't occur to them to add music! But I do appreciate the suggestion. If we hadn't done it already I'd want to do it now!

Phyllis, it just goes to show that black don't crack!

Lori, life in those days is a lot tougher than it is now, but isn't it something how the women always managed to look stunning? I mean, were there any plain-looking people back then? Maybe people look more attractive in black and white?

Reon, I thought about you when I named the game, knowing how you love the movie so much!






. My husband made one

shelia said...

Bettye, Your mom is beautiful. It sounds like you all had a blast. I'm grateful that our mom's were here to witness this new era in our history.