It was a great birthday. It was a great party.

My husband’s Aunt Vera turned 100 last week, and we were among the family members who traveled to Chicago to help her celebrate. Her two surviving siblings were there, and many of her nieces and nephews, some who came from as far away as California, West Virginia, and Texas. And, of course, Georgia.

“Is it a surprise party?” a number of people asked when I told them why I was going out of town. My response was usually, “No. We figure it’s not a good idea to spring a surprise on somebody 100 years old.”

The truth is, though, she loves surprises, and would probably have enjoyed it. A more accurate concern would have been that if we didn’t tell her we were throwing her a party, there was no guarantee we’d have found her at home.

Aunt Vera lives in an assisted living facility, and whenever we’re in town and stop in to see her, we rarely find her in her apartment. More likely, she’s playing Bingo, attending an exercise class, watching a movie, or listening to a singer or speaker. Last Christmas she told us about a holiday outing she especially enjoyed – a bus ride to see the Christmas lights, including at a nearby zoo.

Aunt Vera uses a walker to get around, and her eyesight and hearing aren’t what they used to be. Other than that, though, she has no physical limitations that might slow her down.  There’s no sign of fogginess in her brain or her memory, and her sense of humor is as strong as ever. When I told her, at the beginning of the birthday party, that she was the Queen Bee that day, she didn’t miss a beat before saying, “Then I need a crown.” She enthusiastically greeted everyone by name as soon as they walked in, while the rest of us occasionally had to stop and figure out who was who – as often happens with relatives who live far away and haven’t seen each other in years.

“Thank you for making this old lady so happy,” Aunt Vera said several times as the party was coming to a close. I felt like saying, “I’m glad you’re enjoying the party. But who’s this old lady you’re talking about?”

I don’t know what Aunt Vera wished for as she blew out the candles on her cake – and no, we didn’t have 100 individual candles, just three candles with the numerals 1-0-0 – but I hope it was for many more years in good health and good spirits, enjoying life and time spent with family and friends.

Come to think of it, that’s what I wish for, too.

August 9, 2019
©Betty Liedtke, 2019

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