From my journal: January 3, 2022 Newbury Park, California
“I was so overwhelmed, I know I thanked people, but I don’t remember what I actually said.”
Had I known this past Sunday that Robert had been planning a birthday party for me for months, I would’ve been prepared. I would’ve written a framework for a short Thank You speech. I would’ve mentioned people who were at the event. I would’ve talked about the decorations, the cake and entertainment. I also would’ve styled my hair, (as my long-time hairdresser was right there!) and I would’ve dressed up and donned a little make-up or at least a swipe of lipstick.
But as it turned out, the casual dinner for four at Wood Ranch Golf & Country Club, a place where we’ve been members for many years and where we’ve dined at hundreds of times, was anything but usual.
When my friend Donna and I walked into the dining room to meet Robert and her husband John who drove in from Arizona and had been staying with us for the last four days, I was relaxed and ready for a quiet birthday dinner. But what happened when we crossed the entrance, threw me for a loop. All the people in the room were standing, looking our way and while I knew who each person was, everyone was out of context.
Former colleagues, local friends, neighbors – both former and new, and there were friends from North Carolina, another couple from Arizona and most amazing of all, my brother, Ray and his wife, my forever friend, Meghan from Massachusetts were all standing there before my very eyes! ! It took me a bit to focus, then it took more time to stop crying. And it took even longer to see all the special things Robert had done to make this the most memorable night ever.
So, if I had known about this party and had time to appreciate all the significant touches, instead of tearfully thanking everyone, I might have said something like this:
“Thanks so much to all of you for being here tonight, especially given that we are still in a pandemic. I am overwhelmed by your kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity. To each of you here this evening and to those who couldn’t make it, all of you have truly touched my heart. Having you in my life is the best present I could ask for.
Thanks to you, Sonny Mone for entertaining us tonight. Sonny formerly played with Crazy Horse, so if you’re a Neil Young fan like me, you’re in for a treat!
And to Robert, the stealth planner, people gatherer and the person who undeniably has just won the Best Husband in the Universe Award, thank you for this monumental celebration!
I noticed the balloon arch on the way into this room, but then someone pointed out the moon and star balloons attached. Most of you won’t know that 31 years ago, when we got married, I had the words “More than the moon and stars” inscribed inside Robert’s wedding band. It’s become our phrase, written in every card we give each other. So if the meaning behind the balloons didn’t make my tears flow again, then the beautiful fairy tale cake with the words “Once upon a time…on this date sixty years ago a star fell from the sky and bounced off the moon and landed in Pittsfield, MA” did. Just like a story book, together, we’ve had a life filled with incredible life lessons and many fun and crazy adventures.
And while all of this is more than I could ever imagine, at a birthday celebration no less, raising funds for my favorite non-profit is beyond fantastic! I’ve been involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County for four years now. It’s a wonderful mentor organization helping kids in our own backyards. This $2750 is greatly needed and appreciated!
And the last thing I want to say is, Robert always kids around telling people I married him because I lost a bet. I even heard him say that earlier this evening. But, it’s funny…I have always felt, and especially tonight, that by marrying him, I won the lottery.”