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Thursday, April 07, 2016

The first 80 years . . .

In 1936, the world had not yet succumbed to fascism or fractured in the wake of aggressive invasions and persecution of minorities into an all-out war .  A delightful children's book set in Spain was published, which seemed to hope that we would opt for smelling the flowers rather than the blood and gore of violence:

And this became the favorite childhood book of a little girl named Judy born on April 5 of that year, in Ripley WV, the youngest of five siblings. By the time she was 4 her older two brothers enlisted to fight in WWII and her father died of a heart attack.  Her mother took over his job as postmaster of their small town and raised her younger children alone, with piano lessons and good literature and a love of family.
Her studies paid off in graduating first in her class, and going on to college at West Virginia Wesleyan in Buckhannon.  One day in her sophomore year she needed a gun for a skit about Davy Crockett, and her friend suggested borrowing from a local town boy named Tom. When he came to her dorm for her to return it, she accidentally dropped it down a marble stairway.  He picked up the pieces and boldly suggested that she go on a date with him in lieu of an apology.  Within six months they were engaged, and when her mother died leaving her a complete orphan at age 21 they went ahead and got married before her senior year of college.  Tom served in the army at Fort Knox while she lived in his parents' attic until she graduated.  

The rest, as they say, is history.  Raising two daughters in Herndon and Sterling, Virginia, starting a construction company business they ran out of their home, living generously, deeply involved in church and school and community and family.  Loving history, national parks, road trips, reunions, making apple butter, antiques, decorating, movies, slide-shows, card games, hymns.  Leading and serving many, but mostly us.  And here we are, 80 years later, celebrating.

Party #1 was a family affair, Easter at my sister Janie's.  She gathered my mom's one remaining brother, and 7 of 8 grandchildren, and we had a memorable beautiful dinner and party.  Notice her artistic cake, and all those young happy faces.
Party #2 was a  community affair, on her actual birthday.  Mary, who has essentially been a daughter to her, offered to host a tea for about 25 ladies from her decades in Virginia.  Scones and sandwiches, flowers, balloons, cake, conversation, a lively Judy-version of her favorite game-show Jeopardy, and a lot of emotion. 

These four raised their children together--and drove from Maine, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia to reunite.  Sweet.

Kindred spirits--you can't see it, but they actually dressed almost exactly alike, unplanned!

It was quite the day, and I only hope that in another 30 years I have this many dear friends who would take the time to celebrate like this.  In ten days it will have been 10 years since my dad died.  I would not have dreamed at the time that my mom would be so well cared for, settled, content, finding new friends, active, energetic, healthy, and engaged as she turns 80.  The credit goes to God's grace, and to my sister who has kept close and stepped in with care when needed, and to my Mom who never gives up!

Well, those were the two big parties, and along the way we had lunches and surprises.  I'll end with a snap from Charlotte where Jack's Duke club Rugby played in the regional finals, and came in second.  Faithful cousins came out to see the carnage, and we all had BBQ together afterwards, which was the beginning of the celebratory weekend/week.   
We're grateful we were in the USA for this milestone--Jack and Noah also both hit 18 in 2016, and Emma and Caleb both hope to graduate from college (and Caleb turned 21).  It's quite the year.

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