Loving Hands and A Birthday to Remember

IMG_7907How would you celebrate your 90th birthday?

My aunt is coming up to that milestone and she chose to throw herself a birthday bash with bonfire this past weekend.IMG_7843

This party had it all. Her guests came from many circles—colleagues from her years as a teacher, church members, people from her swim class, family, and many, many neighbors.

One of my aunt’s long-time friends traveled from England. Her oldest friend was there—they’ve known each other for almost every minute of their lives. Almost 90 years—astounding!

The party was at my aunt’s rural home, on a hill overlooking the Champlain Valley of upstate New York, about a mile from the farm where I grew up. That meant I saw some of the people I grew up with but haven’t seen in forever—my sister’s first puppy love, members of the family with whom my family was closest and with whom I share wonderful childhood memories, kids for whom I used to babysit and who are now growing gray.

The party had a definite “loving hands at home” quality, in the best sense of that phrase. Many people chipped in, to make it happen. Daughters made snacks and worried about the details, a son-in-law chopped veggies and arranged food to perfection.

There was plenty of homemade music—we sang “Happy Birthday” to a bagpipe accompaniment and “Auld Lang Syne” to guitar. The birthday girl was serenaded to Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.”IMG_7853

Because an enormous bonfire was the focal point of the evening, the campfire theme prevailed. The ladies from my aunt’s church made cupcakes with a campfire motif and a neighbor friend contributed floral centerpieces in campfire colors.11728979_10153592498309901_5267262041501630761_o (1) 11845088_10153592321439901_4960895211403482030_o (1)

The weather was perfect. The evening ended with the enormous, rip-roaring bonfire. Smaller fires provided toasted marshmallows for s’mores. Falling stars streaked across the sky, offering opportunities for wishes made upon them.

Friends. Family. Warmth. Wishes on stars.

How will you celebrate your 90th birthday, should you be lucky enough to reach it?


Forever Young, by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

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55 thoughts on “Loving Hands and A Birthday to Remember

  1. For being 90, she looks wonderful!!! So glad you had a lovely time. I love the song forever young, my favorite singers to sing it ,Canadian Tenors.

  2. What a heartwarming real family happening!!! The love shows in every deatil! I hope to turn 90 and look just as fresh and spiffy as your aunt!!! xo Johanna
    ps and I will have a bonfire too!!

    • Yay for bonfires–it seems such a fitting way to celebrate! Haven’t humans always celebrated with fire?! And I have no doubt you’ll be a spiffy and spirited 90-year-old!

  3. Isn’t it marvelous that family and friends could get together for such a happy occasion. And exactly as your aunt wished. Those bonfire cupcakes are very creative!

  4. Your aunt looks a good twenty younger than her birthday age! Does she give classes? 🙂 If I was to reach 90, I cannot think of a nicer way to celebrate than a bonfire on the beach with family and friends! Just lovely!

  5. This is amazing and so heartwarming. Just made me smile! I would certainly love to have a party like this, although i’m not sure it could beat this!
    Isabelle

  6. Fun! For my grandmother’s 90th, it was all about family – I’m not sure how many friends were left. But these are different times and hopefully people are being healthier and living longer… I think it’s great that she had her own party so it was all about what she wanted. I’m sure that’s the way to go. For right now, Peter and I are aiming for next year – “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four ?”! I’ve always thought we should do something for that Beatles year. ;-D

    • You’re turning 64 the same year?! How fun. My husband is older than I, so he’s already hit his Beatles b’day and mine is still a few years in the future.

  7. Turning 90 deserves the spectacular celebration your aunt and family and friends enjoyed! The line from the song “May you always do for others, and let others do for you” makes me think of a few men in their 90s I know who are able to live their lives out in the world and are still helping others, (and able to ask for and accept help as well). That’s what I’d like for my old age.

    • I think my aunt does so well partly because of her wide and varied network of friends. There were something like 125 people at this party! From the church, her swim class, the neighbors, etc., etc. She does a great job of making and keeping friends.

  8. What a delightful idea. I hope I remember to do that when I am 90. Especially as I don’t like surprise parties, and if I don’t plan something myself at 90, I may get one and have to smile and say thank you.

  9. Thanks for the good review. Did you get your cooler? I was greeted by cats so I figured I had the right house. Thanks for the ice.

    Jill

  10. It’s so wonderful when we can celebrate life like this. And I wouldn’t mind betting you will all be together for your aunt’s 100th birthday; she has spirit. As for me ~ I am just concentrating on getting to my 60th. 😉

  11. Hi Kerry, Janet Martucci, Arlene’s cousin Dave’s wife here. Just received this via snail mail. I was thinking of calling her last week, meant to get her number from Dave. Our anniversary party was that weekend so we couldn’t make it, but coincidentally, our bonfire looks strikingly (pun there) similar in both shape and size(will send you pictures when i figure it out, or Dave gets home).
    Wonderful, even a bagpiper. We had the balalaika group here, so though we could not be there we had parallel experiences. Love to Arlene, we will get in touch soon.

    • How nice to “meet” you this way! Arlene’s party was wonderful and I’m glad you had an equally memorable celebration. She is with her daughter, Jillian, for the holidays. I saw your other note about living near Alex now. His parents are SO glad that he has moved back east!

      • Delightful to make your acquaintance! We would love to hear from Arlene. How does Alex like Damariscotta?

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