Happy Birthday, Daddy!

I lift Daddy’s plate. Or try to.IMG_0404

He grabs on and holds it down.

I try again.

Daddy grips harder, determined not to prematurely give up his plate of birthday goodness from the Brix, his very favorite restaurant.

Although we are in the Napa celebrating Daddy’s 80th birthday and his hearing hasn’t improved any, he is as strong as ever, especially when it comes to defending his food. I’m glad we’re not having party games including an arm-wrestling contest.DSC00223

Finally Daddy realizes that I am simply trying to place the birthday dessert—complete with candle—in front of him and he relents.

There are twenty-five of us here, all five of us kids, seven grandchildren, three cousins, one UNCLE, plus spouses. My brother and his wife have come from Michigan, one cousin from Texas, the UNCLE from Oklahoma. Another cousin and I have come from Southern California.

“This is a big year for us,” Daddy says in his little speech. “In January Shirley turned 80 and had a nice party. You are all here for my 80th. And on Christmas Day we celebrate our sixtieth wedding anniversary.”

Mama got her revamped wedding ring two days ago, and although she’d said she wasn’t going to wear it until the anniversary, If you had a new diamond ring wouldn’t you wear it to your husband’s birthday party?

We are clearly family. Although the restaurant doesn’t open until ten and a few have driven from Sacrament this morning, everyone arrives 15 minutes early. The “late” one is only ten minutes early. And there are cameras everywhere. Family resemblances compared, memories shared, good natured teasing and compliments galore. “It’s called the ‘oel bidness’”, John H. says of the petroleum business. My only problem is that I want to talk to everyone at once. To congratulate Prestin on the college scholarship, to catch up with Martha, who I haven’t seen in two years, to hear Glendale, 87, gush about how IMG_0409wonderful the flight was. He was going on so much, I asked, “You have been on a plane before haven’t you?” “To Florida, but not over the west.” Although Daddy had a strict ‘no gifts’ policy, he surely did not refuse the big bag of beautiful Oklahoma pecans—“the best pecans you’ll ever eat”—that Glendale had shelled himself.

We’re all in our Sunday best. Mama has a new pretty outfit. Good planning on Daddy’s part to schedule his birthday on a Sunday.

“It’s just a perfect day,” Daddy announced, “A perfect party.DSC_1063

“And I want everyone here to promise that they will be here for my 90th!”

About Karen Ray

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