Family, Friends Jumpstart Mom's 90th Birthday
April 4, 2016

It may be one of the biggest sports weekends of the year, but sometimes you have to take time out for family. Sure, Villanova hit a buzzer beater to defeat North Carolina and the Dodgers clobbered the Padres on Opening Day, but it's not every day your mom turns 90. You can read about that other stuff anywhere.

Actually, my mother's big day isn't until the middle of next week (April 13), but if you look at some of the photos below, you would understand that the logistics of orchestrating a little lunch with 27 people to celebrate the occasion isn't easy. Saturday was the best day to have everyone together, and it turned out to be a very nice day for the occasion.

The place was Vincent Hill Station, a restaurant just south of Palmdale. A noontime gathering was perfect. The place wasn't crowded, and it was early enough so that people who had a long drive home wouldn't be up all night. My uncle Marty (Mom's brother) lives in Burbank, two of his four children and their families live in the San Luis Obispo area, and one lives north of San Francisco. A cousin of my mom's, Sheila, and her husband Bob, drove up from San Clemente just for this. That was mighty nice of them. Add to the family group, Mom invited several friends and neighbors who lived in or around Palmdale, and the banquet room turned out to be the perfect size.

In some respects, my mom is doing pretty well for 90. She still lives in the home I grew up in, but does have to have someone there most of the time. Ana (to the left of my mom in the two photos on the left below) spends more than 40 hours a week there, and there's no question that mom can't really function very well anymore without her. Mom's mobility is just about gone, and although we knew that her legs hurt her too much to stand for a long time or walk even a short distance, her condition in that area has deteriorated quite a bit, even in just a few months since Christmas. Mentally, though, she's fine, and while maybe she'll momentarily forget the name of someone like Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

It did occur to me, though, the night before the big gathering, that Mom and I would be the only two people there that knew everybody. Mom was pretty much anchored to the head of the table, while I was trying to move around and talk to all of my cousins and neighbors. We were a little late arriving, so the family (mostly seated on the right side of the room as you walk in), and the Desert View Drive clan (mostly on the left) had to introduce themselves to each other before we arrived. I don't think everyone talked to everyone, but since Mom (and I) talk about our family to our friends, and vice versa, it was nice to have everyone there.

Everyone seemed to have a good time, including our party host and the waitresses. After a little lunch of a roast beef sandwich, barbecue chicken sandwich, salad, or pasta, in came the cake. The photos below tell that story, the only thing to add is that the cake was chocolate with strawberries in the middle. Mom took some home, and also opened some gifts, and had a mountain of cards to read that evening after she got home.

I had little to do with this shindig. I made a couple of calls, but this was my family's deal. Thanks so much to Uncle Marty for putting this together (and paying for it), my cousins for decorating, the staff at Vincent Hill Station, and everyone attending. Mom's memory is still sharp, and I'm sure she'll remember this for the rest of her life, which we hope and expect to be a long time. Happy Birthday Mom!

The guest list: My count was 27. Including my mother and myself, there was also Uncle Marty, his four children Gayle, Korey, Andy, and Diane, Gayle's husband Jim, Andy's wife Lyndee and his sons Payton and Trevor, Diane's husband Wen Hai and their oldest daughter Felicia. Add cousin Sheila and her husband Bob and we've got 15. From the Palmdale side, Bruce and Lauri Hickert who live across the street (who I've known my whole life), Laura Keigwin and her son Kevin (who I've also known all my life). Kevin made the trip over from Ventura with his 11 year-old son Ian. Also attending, next door neighbors Terry and Barbetta Comstock (40 something years?), Ana Olivares, Marco and Maria Betino, and their sons Christian and Brandon. A Palmdale dozen to the family 15 is 27. As I told Kevin, imagine this whole group in Diane and Wen Hai's living room, and you pretty much get Thanksgiving.

Top photo: Uncle Marty seems amused as mom gets ready to blow out the birthday candles.

Sister and brother settle in at the head of the table.

An intimate little gathering for the birthday girl.

Good thing there weren't 90 candles on that cake!

Mom gets help from Uncle Marty and our Party Host Chrissy.

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