Last weekend, on September 1, was my dad’s 85th birthday. Because Dad’s birthday usually falls on Labor Day weekend, most of the family gathered in Lexington to celebrate. Tom and I took three days off work and were there Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The rest of the family gathered on Sunday.
Tom and I were especially interested in seeing Mom and Dad in their new environment. When we saw them last, they were exhausted from the move and discouraged by all the boxes still to unpack. They were certainly in a different frame of mind this time. I am happy to report that their condo looks like home and they seem to be adjusting very well. Mom already knows most of the people in the complex. Dad is walking every day and riding his bicycle again!
We started off the 85th birthday celebration by singing, as a family, at the church my parents attend. When we were kids, we sang together a lot. As adults, we don’t often have that opportunity, especially on Sundays. The last time we sang together was for Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary – 12 years ago! Here is a picture of all of us 12 years ago.
Although I don’t have any video of us singing to share, we were awesome! Especially since we only had about 20 minutes to practice together. We sang an old song that we used to sing together often. “Pray, the Ballad of St. Peter” by Ralph Carmichael. It is a fun song and we each took a verse as a solo with Mom accompanying. For the Offertory, we sang “Open My Eyes, I Pray” by Lloyd Larson. This song has special meaning because Dad commissioned it for Mom when she retired after 42 years as Choir / Music Director at the Lexington church. If you listen to either of those recordings, I can assure you we sounded just as good. I can do that because I don’t have the recording of us singing it.
After worship, we gave Dad another gift by attending his Sunday School class. Dad used to teach all of us in Sunday School when we were teenagers. He taught the class we attended on Sunday for years, but recently retired. Bev, the current teacher, does a great job and we doubled the size of their class. And, of course, none of us kids are shy talking about our faith. So we had a lively class discussion.
Following church, it was time for an 85th birthday dinner celebration. We went to Buck’s, Mom and Dad’s usual after church restaurant. There were 17 of us at the table: 13 related Clymers and four from the Sunday School class. We had a new waiter and it took a while for him to get all our orders and get the food out, but it was good, as always. Dad insisted on paying, even though the kids thought we should pay. But we didn’t argue about it, which was another gift to Dad.
When we finished lunch, we retired to the condo for 85th birthday cake. Dad didn’t seem thrilled by the number on the cake, but he was glad to have us all there. We played a few games, caught up with each other, and watched the Cleveland Indians lose (the only bad part of the day). I think Mom and Dad were tired by the time most everyone left.
Fortunately Tom and I were able to spend part of Monday with Mom and Dad to continue the celebration. We went to Lowe’s and Best Buy to look at refrigerators for their condo. Their current refrigerator is 15 years old and leaking inside. While at Best Buy, Tom and I also picked up an external speaker for Dad to use with his computer. Happy birthday! Part of the present was, of course, installing it when we got back.
We finished off the celebration by eating lunch with Mom and Dad. The noon meal is provided by the retirement center. So we enjoyed eating with them and meeting a few more folks who live in the complex. I saw seven people I knew at lunch! Mom said she was surprised at how many people she knew when she moved in – she didn’t know they were living at the complex.
I think Dad really enjoyed his 85th birthday celebration. He is always happiest when the family is all together. Having us all at the condo made it feel more like home.