Let's go back about 3 months. For some reason, many of my parent's friends were passing away in rapid succession. We were going to funerals and memorials all over the state for months. The scene was the same at each one: people showing up that haven't seen the deceased in many many years, giving their condolences to the family. There was always a slideshow that would tear your heart out as you were watching. There was always music being played (usually music the person loved). There was always food (usually food the person loved). Family members would each take a turn telling everyone what their loved one meant to them, and sometimes other people would stand up and share their own memories. All in all, it's not a great feeling, and it certainly makes a person ponder their own death. I started to think that it would have been nice to have all these people get together while the person was still alive.
Back to my dad. With my dad turning 80, (a milestone for anyone, to say the least,) I thought it would be a great time to put my thoughts into action. There are relatives that he hasn't seen in over 35 years! There are highschool friends, current family members, and friends that could technically all be here together. I started making phone calls to get a feel as to who would come, and to be honest, it was easier than I thought. My dad is one of these great guys that people fall in love with forever, and would come from as far away as Nebraska to see him. I am not the best party organizer, so I hired my dental assitant to help us plan the food and all of the other things a party needs to be successful (money well spent). We had fried chicken, collard greens, black eyes peas, peach cobbler, ice cream, and a birthday cake(all of my dad's favorites). My dad loves Bluegrass music, so I have friends in a bluegrass band that agreed to come to the house and play a few songs.
The plan was that everyone was show up at my house between 12 and 12:30pm, and my dad would show up at 1. I didn't want everyone to scream "Surprise!" for obvious reasons, so I had strategiacally placed his nieces and nephews at the front door (the ones he hasn't seen in over 35 years). Everyone was in place. My mom and dad walked through the front door and all 60 people were quiet (my mom was aware of the whole surprise). He saw his niece first, and the confused look on his face said it all. Tears started to flow from everyone once he realized what was happening. Below is a photo of my dad hugging his best friend from childhood once he noticed him.
What a great day! From the food, to the music, and yes, the slideshow! This is something I will always remember. The moral of my story is enjoy your friends and family now before they come to see just pictures of you. Another word of advice, check with your spouse before you commit your house to 60 people. (Just sayin')
Have a great week!