What a swell party, swell party--
Swelligant, elegant party this is!
And was! I decided to skip the manicure, so called to cancel. Niece Carolyn called to ask if I could bring some family pics of Betty and me; dug some out and packed them up. Showered, dressed, made up, and got over to Ellen's a bit before 11:00 and we took off.
The traffic on the 101, as ever, was slow in spots, but we got to the place in an hour or so. Got blocks away from it, actually, as the parking there is just horrendous. Finally got a spot, and then trekked over, Ellen carrying a huge cake from Royal Bakery here. Mike walked up and took the cake and we got to the building, a nicely old one with Art Deco decor, trudged up the stairs, and we were there.
I was worried about some of my friends, as many aren't too agile, but they were all there already--Carolyn, Nancy, Doris, Sherry, Donna, and Carole, that is, and Suzanne came later. It was so good to see my brothers: Larry, who brought his granddaughter and great-granddaughter from Riverside, and Frank, with his Marybeth. She's sadly depleted now, vague and confused, and in a wheelchair. Their two daughters, Maureen and Francine, with their families, totaled eight, and Betty, her surviving children, spouses, and grandchildren made twelve. Of course, my own seven (offspring, children-in-law, and granddaughters) were there, along with a multitude of others. I'd say there were about 70 people, a great group.
The food was simple and good: six-foot-long subs cut into manageable sandwich sizes, plus a few complementary sides. The bar was well stocked with red and white wine, beer, soda, and bottled water, and all kinds of jokes were made about the "bartenders." They were all my great-nephews and their friends, none over 16, so threats to call the cops were made. The room was decorated nicely, table covers were pretty, and each had a beautiful vase of fresh flowers, with yellow roses, on it. Huge Mylar blow-ups of "8" and "0" floated above the serving table, and gifts accumulated on the gift table. Hundreds of pictures were taken by almost everybody, and there were family group shots of all configurations.
My nephew, Wes, made a short speech referencing Ventnor, the spiritual home of this family. Mike added a bit, mentioning those who were not at the party and never would be again: his dad, Betty's husband, and dear Jay. We cut and served the cake, continued our talk and laughs, and it was so good.
We were there for hours, but finally packed everything up, and most of those outside the family left. Carolyn and Dana invited us back to their place; my brothers and those with them didn't come, as they had to go back, but a big crowd of us did. Here, the Tokyo family Skyped and we were able to see my younger grandson. Nephew Steve showed some neat videos on the TV, one from my older grandson and his boys. Betty and I opened great presents, I had some good talk--on religion, for one, with my niece Francine and her husband, and we continued to indulge in food and wine.
Some vignettes: A man named Allen, a friend of Carolyn's and Dana's, was there, and what a neat guy! He's from England, has an almost undetectable accent, and has just the quick, quirky humor I like. He took a lot of pictures, too. Mike and Paula and the girls asked Wes and his three girls over to their place to swim in the infinity pool and off they went. My neighbor, Suzanne, gave me a pretty necklace and gave Betty a lovely wooden rosary. Niece-in-law Robyn was in charge of the decorations; she had asked a few days ago if I'd wear a tiara, I said no, and she presented me with a glitzy "diamond" bracelet and ring. Actually, I like the bracelet a lot, and will wear it for real. Ellen wouldn't let me drive home from her house, so my car's still there; I'll call her later and she'll pick me up and take me to get it.
I could add a lot more here, but I won't; anyone who has been to big family parties can fill in. It's enough to say it was an occasion I was anticipating with resigned patience--I doubt if anyone yearns to be eighty unless he or she is ninety--but it turned out to be wonderful fun. It also reminded me what a very remarkable extended family I have, so here's another appropriate tune:
Lucky, lucky, lucky me...!