This year my grandmother, known to everyone as “Grandma”, celebrated her 90th birthday. We’ve been celebrating Grandma’s 90th trip around the sun all summer. Before I tell you how Grandma celebrated, let me tell you a little about Grandma. . . .
Grandma is authentic, kind, loving, and lovable. She’s wise and thoughtful. And she’s a smart and stylish woman. She can put together and outfit and decorate a house on a budget — and it’ll look like a million bucks.
She can talk on the phone for hours. She talks to strangers all the time. And kinda lights-up chatting about.
She’s got a low tolerance for peoples lack of common sense or kindness. If she doesn’t like something she’ll tell ya’. She can get frustrated and she can be mouthy — and she not only knows it, but says she can’t help it, and at 90 years old laughs about it. Some might think this a flaw but they are parts of her character that I am so very grateful for. With these “imperfect” traits she’s somehow given me permission that it’s okay to be imperfect as long as you’re kind. If you live your life with love, truth, and kindness you’ll be loved. What a spectacular gift to give your first born grandchild!
Speaking of kindness, you don’t get much kinder than on the Hallmark Channel. Grandma’s addicted to Hallmark movies — they’re simple and happy. But she’ll take a break from her happy channel to watch Molly B (polka star) on her rural television station (RFD).
Grandma’s remained gracious and stylish into her 90th year. She really needs an Instagram account for all her blouses. She’s a great shopper and has lots of blouses and shoes. But what she buys most is gifts for other people versus things for herself.
She doesn’t look or act 90. She cleans her perfect house herself. And she washes her face with only water and uses Clinique’s yellow lotion. That’s been the routine forever.
She sends greeting cards on every birthday and Christmas and all the holidays in-between. And there’s always a little something stuffed in the envelope. It could be money to go out to dinner, a newspaper clipping, a blessing, or a beautiful handkerchief she thought you’d like. She’s very thoughtful. I treasure all the cards she’s sent me over the years — which I’ve kept since childhood. She’s inspires me to send mail to others. I don’t know if it means anything to them or not. But her cards and packages always meant something to me.
She’s devoted to her family. At times in her life when she didn’t have much to give she’s the one that actually gave you the most. Her generosity is inspiring.
She’s got a great sense of humor and doesn’t shy away from laughing at herself. And she’s got a great laugh. She loves diet pop and McDonalds. In fact, she won’t order pop anywhere but McDonalds because it only costs a dollar there — all the other restaurants on the planet are trying to rip her off.
Her life amazes me. What she’s seen. What she’s done. Gracious. Giving. Grateful. Sincere. But maybe what is the most powerful gift in her 90 years is how she’s loved. You can feel her love and it’s so easy to love her.
She’s got an iPhone. She Facetimes. She’s on Facebook — where she actually follows Molly B.
And that brings me to the summer long celebration of Grandma’s 90th year. . .
Grandma kicked-off the summer’s festivities with family in Grosse Pointe, Michigan when she ventured up there to go see Molly B (who was headlining a polka festival in Frankenmuth). Grandma danced the day away and got a special birthday message from Molly B herself.
It wasn’t all Bavarian festivities on Grandma’s trip to Michigan. Grandma’s 100% Belgian blood was honored! She managed to get in some Feather Bowling with the family while visiting Grosse Pointe. The Cadieux Cafe is the only place in the States that carries the Belgian game. So it’s rather special for Grandma’s special Belgian soul.
The game can get competitive. lol.
Win or lose everyone has a great time. And we take the obligatory picture by the Belgium mural before sitting down to some Belgian fare (we’ve been doing that shot for decades — way before Instagram existed, lol).
After spending some time in Grosse Pointe, she ventured out east where she spent a good majority of the summer. Much of Grandma’s time in Virginia is quiet and routine much like it is at home. One meal out a day and an outing — usually shopping of some kind. Then she likes to settle in with her Hallmark!
She stays with my parents most of the time but when she ventures out east, Miles and I are lucky to get her to spend a couple nights with us in Old Town.
We like to expose her to our world when she stays with us. Life on the boat and at the Old Dominion Boat Club. Plus wherever she wants to eat, shop, or goof around.
We had a perfect tiki bar night when she stayed with us. So we got her out on the clubhouse rooftop with the best view in town and some darn good live music (not Molly B, but it was the best we could do).
After Virginia, Grandma went to Chicago with part of the family to celebrate some more, and work her way back to her hometown in the heartland. Miles and I couldn’t make that trip so I don’t have one picture of her in Chi-Town. Darn the luck! But trust me, she was there, and she said it was too much walking! lol.
And finally we concluded Grandma’s birthday festivities in her hometown in America’s heartland. Where all the kiddos and grand kiddos traveled in from Michigan and Virginia to celebrate Grandma 90th trip around the sun.
This is perhaps my favorite picture I have ever posed. I call it “look how Grandma’s garden grew.” <3
We started her birthday weekend with a tour of the Butterworth House which was where we invited Grandma’s friends and extended family for cake the following afternoon.
It really was a beautiful spot to celebrate. The house is magnificent and has a great history. The historic home once belonged to John Deere descendants and you can see some great majesty in the house. The house is available to tour and has various cultural events throughout the year. We were lucky to get the garden for her party!
We used April Cornel linens to dress-up the garden’s gazebo. We also displayed select photos among candies, cut flowers, and fairy lights. We used a mismatch of prettied antique tablecloths to add interest to the rest of the garden’s tables.
We got a new tripod, with a photo remote, to take a photograph of the whole group and not leave anyone out!
We weren’t allowed to hang anything on the estate, so the three youngest grandkids held the “Happy Birthday” banner. I sat under the banner and clicked the photo button on the remote. I had my fingers crossed that at least one picture would turn out. lol.
We only had time for a two hour party in the garden because we, Grandma’s immediate family, had dinner reservations at Hotel Blackhawk. Hotel Blackhawk is the most charming hotel in the area. It opened in 1915 and this historic property is now part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. It’s hosted presidents, movie stars, and other notables. And 70 years ago it’s where my grandparents celebrated their honeymoon!
We were able to get the private dining room to celebrate, dine, and give Grandma her gift.
The family group gift was a Louis Vuitton handbag. But I honestly think it was the card she liked more.
And to bring the birthday festivities full circle (as well as this post) we presented her with a custom made birthday card of Grandma and Molly B! We all wrote something unique in our own hand and signed it inside.
Grandma, the woman who has always been so loving, generous, and thoughtful with us — all of our lives — we were able to celebrate for a summer. And I hope she thinks that what we were able to do for her 90th was at least a tiny fraction of what she’s always done for us.
Happy Birthday, Grandma! Love you more!
<3 Your Garden
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