Tuesday, April 19, 2011


My mom recently celebrated a milestone birthday and decided to have a party. This year marked the big 6-0 (Mom, hopefully you don't mind me telling the three other people who read my blog how old you are!) and, rightly so, wanted to live it up. You don't turn 60 very often, in fact, you only turn 60 once, so it makes sense to do it up right. 60's music- my favorite- hula hoops, Silly Putty and those weird chalky, unwrapped "mints" that restaurants used to give out before heath codes were established were all part of the evening.

Now, because I live 1,200 miles away, I don't visit very often and usually only make appearances during the summer racing season and for Christmas. My family would like to see me more often- who wouldn't? - but they understand that it's tough to get back. Due to my infrequent visits to The 773 nobody expected me to be at this 60s celebration. Well, since you only turn 60 once I decided it was worthy of a plane ticket and a good time for a trip back to Chicago. Under a veil of secrecy I made plans to attend this party. Only a select few knew I would be making the trip and I swore them to secrecy.
I'm the puny one in the family.

I'm not usually one for surprises but sometimes they're pretty fun. Nadia picked me up from the airport at midnight the night before the par-tay and we went straight to the house. Nadia told an un-truth for me- she told my mom she was going to a movie- to be able to avoid suspicion. I walked right into the house, my mom thought I was one of Nadia's friends and called me by another name, and I just said "hello." It took a few seconds for things to register but the excitement and smile on my mom's face was worth the few seconds of waiting. It's been a long time since she was that happy and I was excited to be there for it. We enjoyed breakfast together that morning and blasted 60s music in preparation for that evening*.

The second person on the surprise list was my grandma, Nanee. She's 87 and one of the coolest people on Earth. She and I write letters to each other- via snail mail- every other week or so. It's always a treat to get letters from her and read about what's going on in her life. I digress. She came in to the party room when I had my back turned and she didn't notice me. I walked over when she'd made it most of the way through her greetings and said hello. It took a moment for her to figure out that the person she was looking at was real. Then, she started crying. She's a crier so I was as prepared for it as I could have been. It was great to see her that happy and excited.

The party began and despite the fancy restaurant I felt compelled to sing 60s ballads at the dinner table. Not that I'm one for maintaining appearances, but it was nice that Nadia and our cousin Brittany joined in too. As is our family custom there were quizzes- this time on 1950s trivia. The young people failed miserably partly for not having lived through that time period and partly for not paying attention in history class. Luckily for me that was only part of the evening's festivities and I was able to make up points in the hula-hoop contest. We were even able to tear my mom away from the game clothespin in the bottle and got her to hula-hoop. Then it was right back to the clothespins.

The evening wrapped up and a lot of fun was had by all. It was so much fun to surprise my mom for her birthday. The best plans are the simplest ones- Just don't tell anyone and it'll work out! The only problem now is figuring out how to top it next year...

*Because of this party I have added 5.5 hours of 60's music to my collection. My life may be complete.


  1. That's a good post.

    I do have to mention that I look like a forest animal in that photo of the fam. Couldn't you have picked a better one?

    Anyway, I like it. My favorite part was "under a veil of secrecy..."

  2. Greta. I miss you. We've been talking about prosthetic devices in one of my labs and I was able to try on a hook. Sadly, no one thought kindly of me pinching their skin the way you did. When are you home next?


  3. Well, they clearly don't have a sense of humor :)

    I'll be back in June/July for races. We should get together!