Earlier this year I had a conversation with my husband, John about his birthday and what he might like to do to celebrate it properly in the way one does a significant birthday, particularly those ending in a zero.
When you’re younger the zeros don’t matter as much as the life events that certain birthdays mark such as those that make it possible to drive a car or vote. Others may remember the birthday that allowed them to buy their first alcoholic drink and belly up to the bar legally but birthdays ending in zeros seem to be most noteworthy after a certain age.
For most of us, it begins with 30 and the recognition that we’ve arrived there faster than we’d imagined we might. After that it can feel like it’s just an eye blink or two before we’re talking about retirement plans with our girlfriends instead of our plans for the weekend.
Although John retired from the television industry at 51 after being offered an early pension, he’s been very busy in the years since buying and renovating houses before selling them on. He’s not really lived the life of a retiree, or at least what I used to think that life might look like and he’s inspired me to rethink aging and the possibilities for my life.
He didn’t want a big birthday party opting instead to have a smaller gathering with family. He picked out a rental cottage in Dorset and we spent a fun week exploring the surrounding area. The first few days saw all the family together in the five bedroom cottage and the last three we had it to ourselves.
Since it was a significant birthday celebration, I wanted to have a bit of decoration so I bought some paper bunting I saw on the store shelves last summer for the Queen’s Jubilee celebration. I tucked it away knowing I was going to use it later to display photos from John’s life. I went through hundreds of images and used about 300 that I cut or tore and glued to the precut bunting. I did this on the sly so he had no idea what I was doing or that I even planned on decorating the cottage.
I hung the bunting when he went left to pick up Rachel, his youngest, and her two daughters at the ferry. It was very late when they arrived as the ferry was delayed so when they came into the cottage he was aware that I’d decorated, but he didn’t notice what it actually was beyond some colorful bunting.
We barely had time to speak as I went upstairs to help Jersey Girl get ready for bed while Rachel carried an already sleeping baby to her room hoping not to wake her. As I was tucking JG into bed and giving her a goodnight kiss, John came in with a sweet smile and said that he’d sat on the sofa and glanced up at the bunting and noticed the name of a boat he recognized and as he stood up for a closer look, he saw he was in the picture and then realized that he was in all the photographs.
I cooked a big Italian dinner on the second night beginning with stuffed mushrooms and a hot artichoke dip before moving on to a spicy lasagna, with salad and garlic bread. I had a simple floral centerpiece, but it made the table seem crowded so you can only see it in the first photo.
We finished later with a yummy carrot cake that I made from a recipe given to me by my friend, Scott. It looks kind of funny because I baked it at home and made the frosting at the cottage, but it still tasted amazing six days later when John and I had the last of it.
Wishing On Birthday Candles … Do You?
I kind of insisted on candles on the cake which is the reason for the bossy sounding title of this post. I’m a firm believer in making a wish on your birthday no matter what your age. John was a good sport about blowing out the candles, but he didn’t make a wish.
It was a lovely week. Thanks to everyone for making so much effort to be there and special love and thanks to dear Elizabeth for her work and secret preparations for my ‘big birthday’ x
What a smashing birthday party week – well done all.
I am Happy John had a Good Birthday. Elizabeth yours was the first mail I read this morning as the update came in, so that started my day off well, the effort you put in for John was excellent, I am not saying it is not done for me as I have never been one for marking birthdays, but my wife tends to break that little rule when there is an `0` involved.
I have read everything on your blog I cannot recall John ever being mentioned as working in Television, I worked for 40 years in television as a Cameraman and upon retirement a year ago it made me sad, do I miss it, you bet! But I am still a photographer.
I am now waiting for the “What did she get him for his birthday, the photo above does`nt give anything away.
Dear Elizabeth and John, First of all, happy Bday greetings to your wonderful man, and I had to tell you this post has inspired me to do something extra to celebrate my man’s 65th Bday which takes place this Thursday here in So. Cal! He wants “just family” and he even brought home the deep dark chocolate cake mix with white frosting which I am to make (it’s a box cake mix but I will add his favorite Semi-sweet chocolate chips to ramp it up a bit…) His Mother and Step Dad sent us the gift of delicious “Omaha Steaks” so we will grill up all 16 of them! Hubby said: “No gifts, please!” So a card-shower will have to do. From me, I asked the LORD, what would be a gift of his heart, just from me? Well, as only the LORD can do, He reminded me of Carl’s love – his 69 Ford GT Ranchero needing new seat covers – reupholstery, so today it’s going to the shop for a new inside restoration. He is just delighted with this gift…and will be bragging about it for a while! Thanks for the inspiraton…I’ll see what I can come up with to celebrate a great mans life in the land of the living! PS…I am from English bloodline, and I can’t tell you how deep calls unto deep with your sharings and pics from beloved England… My best to you both!
Great to see you all had a great time on Johns birthday, Did I see a picture of John in a naval uniform?, if so what ships did he serve on?
Kindest regards to you both.
Tony and Jacquie sanders.
Reply to Tony.
I think it is a picture of my Dad in naval uniform that you spotted. He was in the Royal Navy from 1941 to 1945 and served on the battle ship HMS Valiant.
Wow, your so lucky to have gone through life, and still have these precious pictures of family from previous generations. So many are lost or sold off by younger people, my wife and I enjoy the antique fairs, and we often see old family photos for sale, and wonder.
Glad you and Elizabeth and family had a great birthday.
Tony and Jacquie Sanders.