Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Very Special Birthday Party

Blowing out the candles on 178 years.

Families as big as mine celebrate birthdays often. But yesterday, we celebrated two very special birthdays: Mother, who is 88 today, and her brother, Uncle Tom, who turned 90 on Sunday.
* * *

On important occasions like these, the paparazzi usually shows up, and Sunday was no exception. They were there in full force, flashbulbs popping as they pushed and shoved their way to the best shot. Mother and Uncle Tom handled it all like real pros, though, ignoring the constant flashing, elbowing and pushing, and went on about the business of unwrapping gifts and blowing out candles.

Although both were born in Kentucky, Mother and Uncle Tom grew up on a farm in Southern Illinois. It was during the depression, and times were hard. But their parents always managed to provide a warm, comfortable home for their children.
"We didn't know the difference," Mother said, "We were happy."
They regaled us with story after story of their growing-up years, amazing us with their ability to recall, in great detail, incidents that happened more than 75 years ago.
"We walked to church, and Mother always gave us each a few pennies to put in the offering plate," Uncle Tom said, "But there was an ice-cream stand between our house and the church, so Evelyn and I took turns using part of the Lord's money each Sunday to buy one ice cream cone. We shared it the rest of the way to church."
"If Uncle Tom took more than one lick, I threatened to tattle," Mother laughed, "But then I realized I couldn't. We would get a whipping!"
On January 26, 1938, at the tender age of 17, Mother eloped with Daddy and moved to Carlisle County, where they raised all of us. We lost my older brother, Terry, in 1976, so they raised his two daughters as well. Mother and Daddy were happily married for more than 50 years.
Uncle Tom was drafted into the army in 1942 and served three and a half years in the thick of World War II, including the bloody battle of Anzio Beachhead. After the war, he worked for Ford Motor Company until he retired. Maw Maw George and I rode a Greyhound all the way to Detroit the summer I was 10, and he showed us all around the big city. I was fascinated by the skyscrapers, the people rushing here and there, the roar of the city. But what I remember most of all is my first Banana Split. "Bet you can't eat it all," Uncle Tom laughed. (I did, by the way!)
After he retired, Uncle Tom and Aunt Jo moved back to Bardwell, so brother and sister are close again. Uncle Tom walks two miles each day, and he frequently stops at Mother's along the way. So they can often be found in her kitchen, enjoying a cup of coffee and reminiscing of days gone by.
Happy Birthday, Mother and Uncle Tom! If there were more people like you, the world would be a much better place.


kari and kijsa said...

Here's to a joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year!
kari & kijsa

Michelle H. said...

Wonderful photos! Happy New Year, Brenda!

Rhonda said...

They are so cute and it looks like everyone had a great time. I really like the fact that they were happy growing up without all the material possessions that kids (and adults) have now.

All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley