Archive for February 1st, 2010

It’s a Wonderful Life…

One year ago today, I turned fifty – five oh – 5 0 – the jubilee year – YES, fifty.  It seems that it happens to everyone, if they live long enough.  Anyway, the interesting part was:  I and most of the family were living in England (Cheltenham, United Kingdom) at the time.  It’s a completely different life from America when you wake up in the Cotswold area of the British Isles.  First there are cows on the hills, stone-walled cottages, changeable weather, and lots of lovely chaps who are inclined to say, “That’s BRILLIANT!” when something goes well.  But I digress…

Since we were in England, I knew that I would not be celebrating my day with the usual troupe of culprits, my extended family, community brothers and sisters, and friends from the years.  But, I understood this, and some of those same friends had made great efforts to mitigate any disappointment I might feel on account of the discrepancy.  (see our England blog,  http://ukpop.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/birthday-in-britain-with-snow/ ) Besides, it was Sunday, and we were going to Mass at our beloved Church of the Immaculate Conception in Stroud where I would worship with all my new friends from England, and a Birthday Tea Party (the British and best kind) was going to occur a couple of weeks in future to mark the occasion.  I was content.

A year passed (362 days to be exact).  We moved back to our house in Virginia.  Life went on…

Then, this past Friday evening, an amazing thing happened to me.  My husband had asked me a few weeks earlier if I would enjoy going out for my birthday with our dear friends, Frank and Carolyn, to dinner.  It sounded good, and I agreed.  I was feeling quite blasé about my birthday and thought going out with friends would be even more than I might actually plan to do.  As the time drew near, John informed me that we would need to go earlier than normal because our friends had a meeting they needed to attend at 8:00.  I put up some resistance because it meant missing the basketball games of both of the boys (decidedly NOT brilliant!), but he managed to convince me that Jane would represent us.  Then he said that our friends and we would return to our house for the dessert by 7:00.  I thought this timing was quite tight, and besides, didn’t want Carolyn to have to make dessert.  But diplomatically, John said, “Well, let’s just ask them,” and proceeded to make the call. (In retrospect, the diplomacy should have been a tip-off, but we won’t go there …)

The bottom line is, his plan was set in motion, with my total buy-in, and the dinner occurred with great fun and enjoyment by all four of us.  Afterwards, we hopped in the car – Carolyn and I in the back, Frank driving and John riding shot-gun in the front – and proceeded back to the house (which I had spruced up for the occasion and was therefore pleased about), knowing that the boys and Jane would be eating leftovers after the basketball game.

As we pulled in to the driveway, I was surprised to see that the house was dark, and had a momentary jerk of motherly concern for the kids not being in the kitchen.  But Frank said airily, “Oh maybe they are downstairs…” so we headed for the front door with me in the lead.  As I turned the handle which was unlocked, I felt sure that the children were within, and I reached for the light when it turned on as if by magic!  And I saw first 3 – then 6 – then 10 – then a roomful and overflowing hall-full of people who all yelled, SURPRISE!

And I was.  I felt my jaw drop and my eyes widen and a grin grow as I looked around at all the people smiling and clapping and looking to see my face, whether or not I had been surprised.  It WAS a total shock, a marvel to me because it was so – from my perspective – unexpected.  But I have one of those brains that make connections, and I immediately connected this surprise to my 50th birthday.  I saw those little, shiny 50’s dangling fetchingly from the ceiling along with crepe paper and a decorated table.  But mostly, I saw people:  my extended family (those that were able to come) including Grandpa, Kathie and Greg, and my parents; I saw some friends I met in England who now live in Illinois, but were visiting this weekend;  also, there were many of my closest friends some with children whom I have known from their earliest days, but who have grown into friends in their own right.  Not everyone I have known and loved was there by any means, but such a prodigious number of close friends, that I felt they represented the dear ones of all my years.

And somehow, I felt the expanse of God’s love for me and all those who have been in my life.  It was George Bailey with Clarence and everyone showing up in his own parlor all over again.  And it made me feel quite grateful to my Father in heaven (and John, Jane, and my women’s group here on earth!)  I know that there will be more greetings today because that’s the nature of things.  (Facebook friends sometimes help the process!)  But that party was a miracle of love to me.  And I was grateful.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?

For Auld lang syne my dear, for auld lang syne?

We’ll drink a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Eric&Diane in from Illinois and Erica from A.U. with Maria

Dad Carlos, Maria, Mom Marijane, and Sharon on Feb. 1, 2010

Photos from Party (click here)

May the name of the Lord be praised.  ~ Job 1:21


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