It started out innocently enough. My SIL Barb called earlier this week and invited us over for a Friday night gathering at her house. My neice Kelly and her husband are in town visiting with their children, including a new baby, and I was anxious to see them. Even though there will be a christening and party on Saturday, its not that unusual for all of us to gather more than once when out of town family comes to visit. These large family gatherings are usually "potluck" style, so I asked DH what we were supposed to bring. "Drinks". "Where are they?" I asked, knowing he had already been to the store. "Oh, I took them by earlier." Well, that seemed a little strange to me, because why not just take them when we go there?, but I didn't say anything. As we got to their neighborhood and came closer to their house, I noticed the parked cars. LOTS of parked cars, LOTS and LOTS of parked cars. One of the neighbors must be having a party, too. Wait...isn't that my friend Lisa's car? Why would she be here....I had hardly formed this thought when I saw my little nephew bouncing around outside. He greeted us, then dashed inside. We came up the driveway and through the front door....SURPRISE!!!!!!
My 50th birthday is not until June 10th, so I wasn't really expecting this. The place was overflowing with most of the family and my closest friends (quilting buddies, naturally) and I was just blown away. In our family, we "do" decade birthdays, so I was expecting something, but they really and truly surprised me by doing it early. The miracle is that no one leaked it. My husband is the worst one about keeping a secret, and he always hints around until I guess. (This is when I am NOT asking.) Let's just say I have never been surprised at Christmas. When I opened all my lovely cards and gifts, I ended up with a PILE of gift certificates to...Rosie's Calico Cupboard (the largest fabric shop in the San Diego area), a gift certificate to the Cozy Quilt Shop (small shop in my neighborhood), and a $50 gift certificate for Starbucks......do my friends know me or what?
Earlier this week I was feeling sad about turning 50, and a little blue because none of my original family is still alive to celebrate it with me. My youngest brother died back in 1983 when he was just 18. When he was born I gave away all my baby dolls because I had a real baby to play with. It broke my heart when he died, and I named my son after him. In 1993, my mom died from heart disease. She was a dear friend, as well as a parent, and she is the one who taught me how to love. In the intervening ten years she had survived a heart transplant with grace, courage and determination, but she struggled after her kidneys began to shut down. When her surgical port for dialysis failed for the last time, she said "enough" and refused to have another operation. She was 59. Last year, in January 2004, my dad and my other brother died within 10 days of each other. My brother was just a few days short of his 45th birthday. I won't go into all the details, but the short version is that alcoholism and diabetes killed them both. It still feels strange to be the last living member of my original family.
But...God is good. I have had the same wonderful husband for 29 years, and he is just the best. My son has grown up to be handsome, smart, and kind. I married into a very large and very loving family. We have shared holidays, weekend outings, weddings, births, funerals....so, so many things. And, I have friends. Wonderful friends. Friends with whom I can laugh until my face hurts, or until the tears run down my cheeks. I am truly, truly blessed, and on this birthday, I am surrounded by love.