Somewhere between 55 and 60 people came. We started setting up around 10 a.m. By that time Ned & Marta had arrived and Tom had called from Costco (where he had purchased wine) to say he'd be there soon. When they arrived, Bri was all dressed in a Cal cheerleaders' outfit.
Ed (my mother's stepson) had brought the keg of beer by and set it up. My second cousin Denise came early with her sisters to arrange flowers for the tables. My cousin Ken arrived an hour early and sat around waiting for someone to tap the beer keg for him (I told him that would not happen until 3!)
People began arriving around 3, by which time I had a jug of nacho cheese sauce with chips out along with Mexican won ton and a vat of guacamole I'd made, and the stuffed jalapenos were in the oven cooking. Ellen, my mother's step-daughter, brought 7-layer dip.
The caterers ("Are you Being Served" in Marin County) were just great. The head caterer finally shoo'd me out of the kitchen, said they'd watch the hors d'oeuvres (which was not in their job description) and that I should just go and enjoy the party.
Peach had made name tags and got them distributed. Several people had brought pages to put in a memory book for her. Walt's brother, sister and their spouses had had a great time making up fantastic pages that were the highlight of the book.
Ned took on the job of MC for the day, of course. A lot of people had arrived before my mother did, so he had her make an entrance, and she did (there's video of that, which I'll get up eventually). She hates it when he takes out his temporary false teeth, so of course he did it as often as he could!
People visited, ate, drank, and enjoyed themselves until the caterers got the food out for dinner, when Ned invited everyone to the buffet table, a taco table, with chicken and tri tip roast to fill tortilla shells, along with the usual rice, beans, salsa, etc, and a side dish of roasted vegetables and a big salad.
When everyone had finished eating, Ned made some remarks and then introduced a song that Jeri and Phil had written about Grandma Rynders. It goes on for about 10 minutes and I'm going to post it as soon as I can but since I was part of the song, there are no photographs of the act itself.
Ned then invited people to come and offer any remarks about my mother. Several did, including her best friend Paula, who was very funny.
Ned invited the whole room to come to the stage and pose for a group photo. I had brought my tripod with me, so we could do it on a timer.
Then we did a family portrait that included both my family and my mother's step family as well. It was a picture I very much wanted to take.
Then my mother wanted a picture of her and her step kids and Ed's wife, Jenny (whom I have decided I love....)
(I was holding back tears in this picture because Jenny
had done something that meant so much to me)
...grabbed my camera from me and insisted I get in the picture too. It was perhaps the moment of the whole day that meant the most to me. (I still have a difficult time thinking about that moment without tearing up).
I gave my kids the task of getting the candles on the cake and lit.
After cake, my mother finally got her wish to dance on her birthday
She loves to dance and hadn't been able to for two years, since her accident. She said that it still hurts a bit, but she gritted her teeth and decided she waas going to have fun--and she did.
People finally started going home. The hangers on sat around watching Bri dance, and dancing with her, which was SO funny...
...or just sitting around basking in the afterglow...
while Walt worked his tush off starting to clean up. I have to say that I was so incredibly impressed with the work that he did for this party. He seemed to be everywhere at once and I don't know how we could have done it all without him. He deserved his rest once it was all over.
Everybody who stayed late did such a great job of cleaning up, especially Ed, who got all of the rental things into my mother's car so she can return it on Tuesday. Ned, Jeri, Marta, Tom and Phil are such old hands at cleaning up events like this, that I never worry about getting it all done. They are gems, each and everyone one of them.
I cannot say how grateful I am to everybody who helped make the party such a great event and who put that smile on my mother's face, which I'm sure is going to be there for many days to come!!!