aging, Caring for a parent, Retrospective

99.99 Years

We’re counting down the hours now. On Saturday my mother will be a century old. There are 110 people on the more or less confirmed party guest list—including 30 family members who will be here all weekend—and an unknown number who didn’t RSVP. (Mama says people don’t know what that means. She’s a southerner, she knows.)

The only challenging part of the planning and prepping my sisters and I have done since Christmas—and it’s been a daily project for me for several weeks—is managing the almost centenarian trying to manage the planning and prepping. Otherwise it’s been fun. I guess it’s her party. And I’ll cry if I want to.

I’ve made this property look better than it has in decades, if I do say. It’s ready for the family to reunion here for the first time since long before my father died. There will be no salmon grilled over a fire pit as there was then. And the other three living members of my mother’s generation—her sister and my father’s brother and sister—can’t travel. But several of my cousins are coming, and my mother’s four great-grandsons along with the generation between.

I’ve been digging through the boxes of photos and choosing 100 (or so) to display at the party, scanning them and mounting or framing them. We’ve compiled a guest list of people she has known through all the ages and stages of her life, searching down addresses and reconnecting with some we haven’t been in touch with in years (including a brief flame of my own—the son of friends from before my parents were married). Some died, long ago or recently, and now we know.

Yesterday I overheard Mama telling a friend on the phone that we had invited too many people, she was afraid they were going to be bored. Thanks, Mama, for that vote of confidence. I think it’s going to be amaZing.

Did I mention three days until the day? Short post. I’m sure there will be more on the other side. Meanwhile, here is what ten decades looks like.




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23 thoughts on “99.99 Years”

  1. Missed you at Yoga today.
    Birthday preparations!! Enjoy the day and this special time with your mother & friends and family.
    I look forward to reading and hear g about it.


  2. Holding you all in an ocean of love……those were great pictures of a life progressing….It will be a wonderful celebration…..everything is in divine order


  3. Been thinking of you all a lot recently and anticipating what an amazing, incredible day you will have soon, and how I look forward to sharing the stories! I loved the photo series of the progression of the decades. Please know I send birthday hugs to you and your mom, Gretchen, and please tell her when you give it to her, that she’s the first centenarian I’ve hugged – ever! Peace and joy and grace to you all in these next few days.


    1. Sweetness. Thank you Mary Jo. I will do all of that! I seem to have promised a guest commentary to the local paper too. Trying to think of an angle, that will fit in 600 words. And not sound like an obituary.


  4. Happy 100 years to your mom, Gretchen. You have been a blessing in her life and you have been a blessing in mine! Hugs, Denise


  5. What a fantastic celebration!! 110 people?! That’s wonderful…a life well-lived. Love the photos…I can see where you and Emma get your beauty! Savor every moment this weekend!


  6. You are wonderfully awesome, steadfast, creative, energetic, loving, and faithful. And I am beyond grateful.


  7. You have done an amaZing job of so many things, dear sister. I am ever grateful and always happy to be on this journey with you! Thank you THANK you for the love and care of our mother and our home on the hill.


  8. Remember those wonderful words that you shared with those of us who look through your windows and share your interesting life..on the BIG Kind, not right. Those sweet words got me through Christmas, Easter and family visits. If however, you need more support…slow alcohol drip works well..sip, sip, sip…Blessings! Kim


    1. Haha! Well thank you for that reminder. Both of those reminders. The “no gifts” plea on the invitation did not necessarily extend to alcohol gifts for the DOD. (By the way, my computer chose to post this before it was finished. I guess that means it’s finished. But it might be different in the morning.)


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