Snow fell Saturday morning, the first full day of Spring, covering the fresh white blanket that had fallen the night before. We picked up my brother, Pete, from the train station, he came in from NYC, before starting our journey to Pennsylvania; we were driving to my father’s 80th birthday party my sister had planned. Liz, my uncle and aunt drove separately and would meet us at the hotel restaurant along with some of dad’s friends and neighbors.
I drove the first hour or so on wet roads, watchful for black ice or slippery patches. We talked about family, relationships, divorce, kids, our expectations in all of these. We made one pit stop, got to PA in just over three hours. The private room was set up for the party; Liz put noisemakers at each of our places, gave dad a festive hat to wear, tied mylar balloons to the table with the cake.
We introduced ourselves to dad’s friends, most of them golf buddies, got to know them a little better. Dad lives in an Assisted Living facility but the guys still include him, pick him up, take him with them when they play a round of golf; we thanked them for that. We helped ourselves to salad, ordered drinks, took our seats next to my uncle and aunt, Chris’ parents; Uncle Henry told jokes and performed a few magic tricks at one end of the table, dad beamed at the other end. We sang Happy Birthday and watched dad blow out his candles.
After cake, dad opened his gifts; he asked that we not bring any but everyone ignored his request. He got gift cards, fancy toiletries, golf clothing. Standing at the front of the room he declared this the best birthday he’s had in 79 years. Dad went around the room, said a few words about everyone there, thanked us all from the bottom of his heart.
Liz, Uncle Henry and Aunt Maryann were staying in PA overnight; my uncle wanted to spend more time with his brother. They made plans for dinner and breakfast the next day then Liz brought dad home and my aunt and uncle went up to their room to relax. Bill, Pete and I hit the road for CT. Back at home we ate Thai food for dinner before seeing Pete off at the train station. When we got to Bill’s, I put my sweats on and parked myself on the couch and didn’t much move until it was time for bed.