birthday #99

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
Aunt Lil and her great-granddaughter, Ashleigh ~ 1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

Thursday Tim & I briefly came out of our seclusion to attend my aunt’s 99th birthday party at the nursing home she moved into last August, a few weeks before my father died. It was heartwarming that so many of those who love her were able to take off of work or school to attend an afternoon party on a Thursday, so she wouldn’t be too tired to enjoy one later in the day.

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
the collage Ashleigh made for the occasion ~ 1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

Auntie’s doctor approved the celebration and gave her permission to have as much champagne, cheesecake and black raspberry ice cream as she desired.

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
good job blowing out the candles on the birthday cheesecake ~ 1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

I had not visited Auntie at the nursing home since August because of the illnesses and deaths of my father and Tim’s brother. She looks better than I thought she might have and I was pleased and relieved to see that she is being well cared for. Hopefully we can visit more often now that the dust is beginning to settle around here.

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

Aunt Em and Aunt Lil entertained us with stories from their “hen party” days. When I was a child, my four aunts, Mary, Jean, Lil and Em, their cousin, Aunt Julia and her friend Stella, and my mother would gather at Aunt Em’s house when she lived in New Jersey. In January because most of their birthdays fell in that month. They would go into “the city” (New York) for the day and evening and leave us children with the fathers and uncles.

The fathers and uncles let us get away with all kinds of mischief. They’d be watching football on TV and drinking beer. One time one of the cousins tried to do a somersault over a chin-up bar and whacked his head on the ceiling in the process. Uncle Andy exclaimed, “Now that’s what I call using your head!” We laughed about that bit of irony for hours…

My Aunt Jean was the first of the gang to die, in 1986. She was my favorite aunt – we shared a birthday, a love of cats and children, the color purple (when I grew up blue became my favorite color), a lot of personality traits, and the A, RH-negative blood type. And now I’ve learned that she also shared my sensitivity to alcohol. It didn’t take much to get her tipsy and very sleepy. Aunt Em and Aunt Lil remembered one time when she fell asleep with her head on the table at a luncheon. And another time when she got home she climbed into the crib with her son and they eventually found her sleeping there.

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
Aunt Em and Aunt Lil ~ 1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

Aunt Em took the train up here from Maryland – she usually drives, but not in the winter. If I live to be 86 I hope I will be as vivacious as she is! Aunt Em and Aunt Lil are the last surviving siblings of the eight children their parents had.

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
Chelsea and Aunt Lil ~ 1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

Chelsea is the wonderful caregiver who worked full time for us for a year, until my father died, making it possible for Aunt Lil and my father to live at home. We all became very attached to her, especially Auntie.

1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut
a quiet moment with my sister, Beverly ~ 1.30.14 ~ Storrs, Connecticut

When it was time to go I got a big long hug from my Auntie and we both started crying and told each other, “I love you.” Beverly had explained to her about Toby’s untimely death and she seemed to understand what a rough time we’ve been having. She held hands with Tim for a moment.

What an emotional roller-coaster we’ve been on this past year…  Like my sister, I wish I had the resources to care for our aunt at home but I’m relieved to know she’s safe and well cared for. And I hope she will treasure happy memories of her 99th birthday party.

20 thoughts on “birthday #99”

  1. 99th Birthday! Wow! Barbara, I love to read the stories about your near & dear ones. Aunt Li’l seems so loving. What a family you have, so much love & affection. May God bless you all abundantly..

    1. Thank you, Sonali, I am happy you enjoyed reading some of my memories. Auntie is a bit of a spitfire, but a loving soul underneath her protective walls. She became a widow when her sons were 7 and 21 years old. The younger son was killed in a car accident when he was 29, and the older son had a fatal heart attack when he was 48. Life has not been kind to her so we are amazed at her resilient spirit, in spite of her prickly personality!

    1. It was a wonderful celebration – a bright spot following a very sad year for all of us. My aunts lost their brother (my father) in September, but, on a happy note, Aunt Em became a great-grandmother for the first time last March. 🙂

  2. I’m amazed that she only moved into the home last August. 98 and living independently is amazing … and I agree with Laurie. Aunt Em does not look 86.

    1. Auntie was the oldest resident of the senior housing complex where she lived until she was 97. Then she moved in with my sister for a year. The only thing she didn’t do independently was drive – I was her chauffeur for almost thirty years!

  3. It’s so great to know that you and Tim were able to make some new happy memories by celebrating Aunt Lil’s 99th birthday, Barbara. She looks wonderful for her age (so does Aunt Em!) and I hope she enjoyed as much champagne, cheesecake and black raspberry ice cream as she wished for. 🙂

    1. It’s a wonder to me, Joanne, why some live to be 99 and others die so much younger… It seems so random – living in the present moment is the only way to come to terms with this great mystery surrounding us… Auntie, as usual, had her spirits and sweets in healthy moderation. 🙂

  4. To think that you have a special Aunty who is 99, Barbara! It looks like you all had so much fun…a good reason to come out of seclusion. I like that the doctor allowed Aunty all the goodies, too.

    1. None of us can quite believe Auntie made it to 99! I have a gut feeling she will be around until she is 104, Aunt Em told me her gut tells her 105. Time will tell. Aunt Mary lived to be 96 and we all thought that was amazing!

  5. What a lovely post Barbara. Congratulations to your Auntie Lil who at 99 still looks good, and has enough lung power to blow out the candles. Did she enjoy the Champagne, cheesecake and black raspberry ice cream? It sounds rather yummy…

    1. Thank you, Rosie. Auntie did enjoy the champagne, cheesecake and black raspberry ice cream, in fact we all did. 🙂 I was pretty impressed with her blowing out the candles, too. There were two sets of nine of them. 🙂

  6. What a lovely day and celebration Barbara. I so enjoyed the memories you shared here. It brought back memories of my own aunts and uncles and how special those relationships can be.

    1. Thank you, Colleen. Aunts and uncles are special people. Aunt Em spent a night here before we took her to the train station in the morning – we had such a good talk. She gave Zoë an affectionate nickname, too, before she left, Chubkins. 🙂

  7. 99! That’s a good, long life. It looks like it was a beautiful celebration. Wonderful post, Barbara. I think champagne, cheesecake, and black raspberry ice cream are perfect for a birthday feast. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Robin. It was good that so many of us younger ones managed to take some time off work and school to let Auntie know she is loved and appreciated. She received so many gorgeous flower bouquets – she wound up giving some of them to other residents in the nursing home. 🙂

    1. I don’t know, Larisa. I didn’t see any presents there besides flowers – Beverly would know, though. You were missed! *hugs*

  8. What wonderful stories, and what an amazing woman your aunt is, Barbara (and your Aunt Em)! So glad you could celebrate her 99th with her and hope you can do the same next year! One can see the ♥ is the photos! XO

    1. Thank you, Diane! It all comes down to love in the end, doesn’t it? Auntie is often bitter and demanding – her doctor says she can teach all of us a thing or two about tenacity and determination. In the end, though, the love does shine through. ♥

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