Happy Birthday, Mom!

Day 25: We celebrate my mom's birthday with stories and onion rings...

I guess maybe you’ve been away from home too long when you attend your mother’s 94th birthday party and have to turn to your brother and ask:

“Who are all these people?”

Despite my mom spending a good portion of the previous two days calling people to let them know her heart would not break if they didn’t come, 13 people showed up for her birthday dinner.

We wanted a picture of everyone together and in the first attempt, it was determined that my mom needed to be a bit more to the left, so instead of asking her to climb back down out of her chair and then back in, we just picked her up and carried her in the chair like she was the queen of something and come to think of it, maybe she is.

Take note of mom’s jeans.

Before we left for dinner she came downstairs and asked if they made her legs look too skinny.

“So you’re looking for something that makes your legs look fat?”

I assured her she looked great and she shouldn’t go back and change those jeans, especially since I was going home in just six days and wanted to make it to dinner before my plane left. (She ain’t the fastest mover these days.)

Before we left the house I showed her the birthday wishes you guys sent her through social media and she truly was amazed that a bunch of people she’s never met have to come to know and like her through the stories I’ve told.

She said:

“Isn’t that nice?...Now do I have to send all those people thank you notes?”

I told her no, I’d take care of it, so consider yourselves thanked; it really did mean something to her.

When my mom was told she could order anything she liked for dinner, she said:

“I’m not hungry…I had breakfast.”

When pressed to order something, as predicted, she went with her favorite: onion rings. I’m not sure she finished three of them, but took the rest home and told me she’d be eating onion rings for the rest of the week.

So when this dessert arrived she sent it around the table and told everyone they had to take a bite; so if anyone had the flu, I should be coming down with it any day now.

As you might expect the stories were flying thick and fast and here’s one from my brother Paul T, looking like the upstanding citizen he is in the photo below.

For a while Paul T repossessed cars for a living and his first repo went off like dream – he hotwired a pickup with a camper on the back – but made an unfortunate discovery when he got the pickup back where he was headed.

There were two kids sleeping in the camper.

I’m a few credits short of my law degree, but I’m pretty sure that is not only technically kidnapping; I’m pretty sure it’s actually kidnapping.

So Paul T carefully drove the pickup back – didn’t want to wake the kids – and parked it where it was originally. So somewhere today there are two adults going through life not knowing they were temporarily kidnapped by a repo man.

(Just looked up the statute of limitations on kidnapping and there is none, so if anyone in law enforcement wants to make an issue of this, it’s just a funny story we made up and we’re going to stick with that version of events when you interrogate us.)

Look at the group photo again and the girl to the left of my mom is Jackie, one of Paul T’s daughters.

Jackie told a story about being sick while staying with my mom and my mom saying she had some medicine Jackie could take. Sounds like it was some kind of cough syrup with codeine, but it was so old it had solidified at the bottom of the bottle.

Mom said that was OK, there was still some liquid at the top and that would probably do the trick.

Jackie checked and the medicine was actually prescribed for Nikki – another of Paul’s daughters – and the expiration date had come and gone the year before Jackie was born.

To the right of my mom in the group photo are two more of her grandkids, Daniel — Danny’s son who just started high school — and Paul T’s son Beau, a local legend in the racing community.

The day before the group photo was taken Beau had won three more races and (assuming I got the right photo off the internet) here he is in action.

I can’t tell you what was being said at the other end of the table, but at our end Paul T told another story about the time he decided to strike out on his own – still in diapers – with our dog Chief.

Mom said both of them were found in an alley, by my dad — the town cop — out on a patrol. Paul T asked what alley since there wasn’t one beside our house and my mom said:

“You were found downtown.”

Which we figured was a solid mile or two of walking from a kid whose strides were six inches long. Mom has no memory of what she was doing that kept her so distracted she didn’t notice a kid and dog were missing long enough to walk halfway across Rocklin.

Cool story if true: apparently Chief stayed between the road and Paul T and would nudge him back if he got too close to traffic. Sounds like Chief was the smartest of the three characters involved.

Say what you want about my mom’s parenting; if you made it to adulthood, you were definitely a survivor.

After dinner, we all headed for the parking lot to take a few photos and here I am on the Harley I bought and plan to ride back to Missouri.

Now here I am doing the Easy Rider pose, but then remembered that got those guys shot, so from now on I’ll just go with a “thumbs up.”

OK, for those of you worrying about the odds of me making it across the country on a bike I can’t hold up, it’s actually Paul T’s Harley and I told him it scared me just to sit on it. Thing weighs about a thousand pounds and if I tipped it the wrong way, I didn’t want to have to pay for a new paint job.

Paul T offered to take me for a ride, I declined, but he didn’t seem all that interest in taking a ride in my rented Toyota Corolla, either.


In conclusion, I want to thank everyone who showed up for my mom’s birthday or got involved through social media; you made her day a special one.

After her party I took mom back to her house, asked if she needed anything before I left and she said no, she was all set.

She was going to have some onion rings.