Eight days ago I celebrated my 70th birthday. My birthday has always been challenging because it comes 3 days after Christmas and I am usually exhausted. When my children were young I was almost always sick as well. My mother tried to make it special for me even after I was married with my own children but, honestly, it just seemed like another chore to deal with. And this year the anticipation of turning 70 was really weighing on my mind.
I told my children I didn't want a big deal celebration - no parties, no hoopla! So they talked among themselves and came up with a plan. Friday night we would all go out to a mid-level restaurant - they chose Granite City Food & Brewery. A little pricey in my opinion but a good choice. They were all there when we arrived (except my daughter, son-in-law and 3 grandchildren who live in Roanoke, VA) - there were 13 of us. And I have to say, the restaurant staff did an amazing job of taking care of us!
After we had ordered, I opened a card from all of them telling me just how much they appreciated me, loved me, and appreciated all the sacrifices I made over the years so they had a good life (I was basically a single-mom of 5 for most of their growing up years). Then I was told that I had 70 gifts of memories my children had of our lives together. Things they remembered about me and things to show me how much they loved me. I was speechless! I began opening gifts: the 50th anniversary book of General Hospital, a T-shirt from Dance Fever (a 70's TV show), a small Japanese doll because I went to Japan in 1972, pictures drawn by each of my grandchildren, various food items that I have always liked but rarely eat anymore, and white framed photographs of each of my grandchildren including the ultrasound for our soon-to-be 7th grandson and a blank frame for the child my son and daughter-in-law are trying to adopt. I opened 35 gifts at the restaurant with the remaining to be opened at our Christmas celebration on the 28th (my actual birthday).
The next surprise was the beautiful piece of pottery from my ex-husband (their father), along with a very nice note about me being one of the good memories in his life (makes me wonder why he left us
). I'm attaching a couple of photos of it. He may have not been the best husband or father but he was always a great potter!
From the side - look at all the intricate detail
and from the top
By the time I got to the last present my emotions were pretty much on the edge. The last gift sent me right over. I opened it and my daughter had written "If not for this guy, we would all have to do our own taxes" and framed picture of my father (he was an accountant and taught me how to understand taxes). The tears came then - I miss him so much even though he's been gone for almost 18 years.
These children who drove me crazy more days than not, really made my 70th birthday so very special. I'm still putting things away. I am so grateful for these wonderful children - my own 5, my step son, my in-law children, and my sweet 6 grandchildren. I'm a very lucky mamma!