Certain times in our lives are fairy dust moments; moments so sweet that they can only be seen through the mist of eyes brightened by tears of happiness. I have been blessed with more than my share of these moments throughout my life, but none sweeter or brighter than those of tonight’s celebration of my 79th birthday
We are in San Diego with our Daughter Kristi, her wife, Theresa, and our eight-year-old twin grandkids, Eric, and Danica. We spend most of the day at LEGOLAND. In the morning, the twins take part in an LEGOLAND competition with others from their school, win the obligatory blue ribbon, and enjoy the recognition of achieving their creative goal. In the afternoon, we ride the little tour boat, admire the Lego built replicas of America’s cities and the Seven Wonders of the World. The weather is San Diego perfect; blue skies, gentle cooling ocean breeze, and delightful sunshine. The twins run from one ride to another with the enthusiasm and energy of third graders while their mothers follow closely behind or share the rides with them. Bob and I smile and watched and occasionally find a welcomed bench to rest on before heading to the next ride or exhibit.
Dinner is at Albie’s Beef Inn. It is a restaurant directly out of the fifties with red carpet and piano bar. It also has a wall of delightfully decadent paintings of nude women. The twins come to a dead halt when they first see them; mouth open and eyes wide. After being seated in the dining room, Eric and Danica make two or three trips to the bathroom. These trips are not out of a pressing need to go. Rather it is because the bathrooms are close to the front door, and as they pass by, it provides the opportunity to sneak fleeting glances at the gallery of womanly nakedness and perky breasts.
A competent waitress who has been told ahead of time that it is my birthday comes to take our order. To my chagrin and the others’ amusement she refers to me as “The Birthday Girl”. It seems to be Filet Mignon for everyone, except Eric and Papa who deviate with Chicken Fingers and Ground Sirloin. Our glasses are filled with juice, coke, or wine and dinner is on its way.
And now for the first sprinkling of fairy dust. Eric stands, taps his juice glass with a table knife. He looks around to making certain we are all paying attention and says in a voice resounding with enthusiasm, “Lift your glasses, I would like to make a toast”.
Our grandson is a child with autism. A child whose speech I often have difficulty understanding, who frequently is off in a world of his own, and for whom making eye contact is a challenge. However in this magical moment he speaks with the clarity and the confidence of a veteran Toastmaster.
Eric eyes each of us and announces, “This toast is for Momma T for finding this great restaurant and for Momma K for driving us here and for the good food that we will have.” We all raise our glasses in a salute and dutifully tap the brim of our glass with that of each family members. The clinking sound resonates as sweetly, to this grandmother’s ears, as musical wind chimes in a gentle breeze.
Fairy dust continues to fall when a few minutes later Eric once again leads us in a toast. This time as robust as the first, but it has more to do with our manners. The toast includes a reminder to use our napkins to wipe our faces and to chew slowly to enjoy our food. It gives us all a good laugh and brings me to my feet to propose a toast to family, happiness, and love. Not to be outdone, Danica stands and toasts the joy of having the second Filet Mignon of her young life on her Nana’s birthday and ends with the most beautiful smile radiant in its confidence and affirmation.
Proposing a toast moratorium so that we can enjoy our food and lively conversation turns out to be a good idea. It is followed by a promise that after-dinner toasts will be welcomed. Then the table is cleared and my celebratory birthday dessert arrives with its lit candle. Happy Birthday is sung, and Papa gives a birthday toast that ends in praise for his grandchildren. Next comes Kristi’s toast; a sweet testimony to our Mother-Daughter relationship and Theresa finishes off the toasts with wonderful words filled with gratitude and love of family.
The bill is quickly paid, and as we stand to leave the restaurant, I glance around at other diners as they smile and nod approval. It makes me think a little of the fairy dust has floated around the room. As we pass the nude paintings, I believe one or two of the women in the portraits wink at me. Perhaps, it is just more magical fairy dust bringing to an end, the most perfect birthday party ever.
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