Monday, February 24, 2014

My Aunt Mary’s 90th Birthday Party…

My Aunt Mary with her son, Paul (next to her)
and my family standing behind
My Aunt Mary turned 90 on Valentine’s Day, but the weather made it impossible to celebrate it that weekend. My aunt has been in and out of the hospital many times the past two to three years. I went to see her just a couple of weeks ago at the hospital. She couldn't breathe one night and it had snowed a lot. The ambulance couldn't get through the streets, the fire department had to help. They could not use a stretcher due to ice, so a few men had to carry her into the ambulance. When she got to the hospital, they ran tests. She had had a heart attack (not her first) and two strains of the flu and pneumonia. That was a Tuesday night. I went there on that Saturday afternoon. She had already made a ton of progress and was chatting with us and asking about my girls. After we were there a while she told us we could leave, that she was fine...and she was. Along side her bed were discharge papers! My cousin, Maria, glanced through them. I was alarmed that they were releasing her too soon. Her family had to consider taking her to a rehab until she could get around on her own. But, about 3 or 4 days later, she was released and able to go home. My aunt Mary is amazing! God Bless her.

This weekend the weather was beautiful…and so was my Aunt Mary. I walked into the party room at the restaurant to see her seated at the table in the center of the back wall, the room had two long tables extending from each side of her table…like a U shape. I walked over to greet her and she tells me to sit near her. She is in great spirits, wearing a beautiful pink chiffon dress and the cameo pin my uncle Tony had gotten her many years ago. On her wrist was a bracelet with several small cameos that came from Italy. My Aunt Mary always loved parties and family get togethers and yesterday was no exception. Everyone was taking pictures to preserve the memories of this special day. My aunt was surrounded by her children, Maria and Paul, her grandchildren, Frank, Joseph and Deanna, her sister, Angie, and a lot of nieces, nephews and friends. As we are chatting, my aunt tells me she feels a little chilly. I tell her that maybe she should open my gift. We open the package together and in side was a shawl I had gotten her. We slipped it over her shoulders right then and there. Now she is a little more comfortable. Out with the food!

The restaurant served many plates of appetizers family style: a mozzarella and tomato salad, a calamari salad, stuffed eggplant, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed clams, garlic bread. There was plenty of wine at all the tables. When I wasn’t pouring myself half glasses of wine, my husband was and when he wasn’t looking, the waiter filled my glass to the brim a couple of times. The entrée hadn’t even come out and I was feeling happy and very full. For the entrée they had a chicken and sausage plate with potatoes, peppers and onion and a dish of penne with tomato sauce. Everyone was enjoying the food and the company. Then my Aunt Mary started to talk and everyone else got silent. She wanted to thank everyone for coming. She said in times like these, when most families drift apart, she was happy to say that her family always remained close. And, with a tear trickling down the corner of her eye, she told us how much she loved us all…those of us who were there and those of us who weren’t. It was very touching.

My Aunt Mary's Family
Bottom Row: Deanna, Maria, Aunt Mary, Angie,
Back Row Center: Joseph, Frank, Paul

It is only fitting that my Aunt Mary was born on Valentine’s Day, a day that celebrates love. My Aunt Mary has always been a wonderful, loving person. She has a heart of gold. She raised her family and worked hard her whole life. She has had more than her share of health problems. She always seemed to have endless patience with children and loved being around them. I really never heard her complain much about anything. And, because of her, we will all have many cherished memories of the Thanksgiving and New Year holidays that were always celebrated in her home. She inspired me to try and make all the holidays special for my children too.

My aunt’s memory is a little faulty, as you might expect, but no worse than mine. She kept asking about my parents, how they were doing. Whenever she does, I don’t have the heart to tell her they have been gone a long time. I just tell her they are well, but not able to go out much any more. She always tells me to send them her love and that she misses them. I have all to do not to cry myself. My Aunt Mary is all that we have left of her generation. We have lost so many loved ones over the past 30 years it brings tears to my eyes as I write. She has given us many a scare the past couple of years, but her positive attitude always pulls her through. Her last recovery seemed almost miraculous. Not only the recovery, but the short time it took her. I’m very thankful and feel blessed that she not only bounced back, but was able to come out and celebrate her birthday in style.

At the end of her little speech, she talked about how good her children were, how good her grandchildren were and how blessed she was to have them. Then she said, “I’m the only one who’s a stinker.” Everyone laughed. She added, next year we are all going to do this again. There is nothing I would love more than to be able to celebrate my aunt’s 91st birthday with her in 2015. Happy 90th Birthday Aunt Mary…and many more!

My Aunt Mary's Thanksgivings:

My Aunt Mary's New Year's:


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