55th: Eat not in the streets, nor in the house out of season.
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18 October 2004
"I just love lying to the old broad," a gleeful Tom told me on the telephone.
Tom was part of an elaborate ruse to surprise my mother and get her up here to celebrate her 85th birthday.
Now it wasn't difficult to figure out how to surprise her on the occasion of her 85th birthday--because her real birthday is at the beginning of September and she surely would not have a clue that the family wanted to have a big party for her in the middle of October. My cousin had been out of town the whole month of September and didn't want to miss the chance to help my mother celebrate.
So getting her to a restaurant where 25 of her family members would surprise her wasn't the hard part.
Finding a plausible reason to get her up here to this part of the state was the hard part.
I finally suggested that Tom call and tell her that he and his wife were going to come to party with a friend of theirs, who lives near Sacramento, to celebrate their first anniversary (which is next week). He told her that he'd like to get together with her too, and could she come up to Sacramento and meet them for dinner.
I knew that Grandma would not pass up the chance to get together with one of her grandchildren.
It worked. Gullible Grandma readily agreed to come up for dinner. The surprise would be that (a) all the family was there for dinner too, and (b) Tom wasn't there, because he couldn't get away to come!
We hung around the house until 5:30 and then got in the car to go "meet Tom." We actually had to go back to the house after we'd started because she'd brought an anniversary card for Tom and Laurel and had left it in her bag.
The dinner was held at Isabella, our Mexican daughter Marie's restaurant, in midtown Sacramento. Marie and I had been conferring about the menu and we had decided that rather than have everyone order their own, she'd just make "a dinner" for us. Her kitchen went overboard in laying out this gorgeous buffet.
We pretty much took over the place and when we arrived the whole group was standing there waiting to sing "happy birthday" to her. The surprised worked. She was totally shocked. She said she'd never been so surprised at anything in her life. Her husband had thrown a surprise party for her 70th birthday, but she had been suspecting something at that time. This took her completely off guard.
Marie had set up three different tables to accommodate our group.
She had also donated the wine for the evening.
The food was delicious, with lots of variety and lots of choices. There were tostitos, flautas, the famous Salad Isabella, chicken mole, paella, a couple of kinds of enchaladas, beans, and some othe things I'm probably forgetting. Everyone seemed very pleased with it. The cook bagged up what we didn't eat so there were lots of leftovers (though we ended up not bringing any home ourselves).
At some point, Tom called and then Walt called Jeri, so my mother was able to talk with both of them during the evening.
When dinner was over there were gifts to be opened. She seemed most pleased with a bottle of vodka that my cousin had given her!
And then there were beautiful cakes, which Marie's husband had picked up at Freeport Bakery, the best bakery in Sacramento. Marie also donated the cakes.
So in the end, it was a grand success, worth the wait, and everybody had a wonderful time, especially my mother.
Now we'll have to figure out what we're going to do to surprise her when she turns 90....
PHOTO OF THE DAY