We’re so grateful to all who contributed to our combined 80th birthday party. Not least of all is the group that was least represented at the event: the medical people in Paihia, Whangarei, Auckland and Takapuna who are persevering with keeping Dave going when his realism tended to overtake his optimism since he got the cancer diagnosis thirteen years ago - there were no plans for an 80th birthday then.
Last Saturday, 16th May. saw huge and unexpected attendances from among the wider family with people travelling from all over to what Bev and I had thought was going to be a fairly modest, local event. We expected that we’d see our Kiwi grandchildren. But we were blown away that Emma was able to make a surprise visit from Sydney. All three spoke assuredly and amusingly. However, new great grandbaby Cohen David made not the slightest noise the whole time, capturing all hearts in a different way. We had a very special family dinner for twenty in the dining room where the younger generation at a table of their own obviously enjoyed themselves. (We were delighted that the Thomas clan also took the opportunity to have one of their famed get-togethers later during the evening).
Several of Bev’s twice-a-week Indoor Bowling friends were there. In fact, as a guest list expanded to include different groups, we received hardly any apologies at all! It was also very special to have the barbershop chorus and quartette along. These mostly very average singers have given us a very special experience as we have been settling into a new way of life. And it was a good rehearsal for a major performance we are doing at Centrestage Theatre next week for Age Concern’s free concert for oldies — we’ll probably be singing to some who are much younger than we are!
It was fun to be reminded of some of the experiences that we ourselves have recalled from time to time. It was fascinating to be told of events that had completely passed from our minds over the years. We appreciated comments on our contribution here in the last year or so. And it was moving and humbling to hear Keith Rowe’s summation of the contribution we had made in church and community over the years. I think I said afterwards that it was a bit like being at one’s own funeral! It was a very special time.
We were all really impressed with how the Village staff and facilities met our needs for this event. Inconvenience to other residents seemed to be minimal and no requests were too hard to meet. There was plenty of room for everyone to sit at tables but chairs were easily drawn together at one end for the obligatory slideshow on a giant screen.
Chef Amanah and the kitchen staff prepared beautiful and appropriate snacks for the afternoon. But they also produced casual lunches for a few and a big dinner for twenty family in the evening as well as their regular catering for seventy residents in the Serviced Apartments. Amanah is keen to do more of this kind of catering and we can certainly recommend her.
We had half an hour of informal time, then refreshments and some speeches. The Chorus sang a couple of numbers and we re-assembled to view the Golden Wedding slides, this time with commentary from Dave. We cut the cake that Joan carried on her knees all the way from Dunedin and our minister Robyn sang a moving blessing. The Chorus closed the afternoon with the Irish Blessing.
People said they appreciated the balance of the afternoon’s programme and of course Christine did an absolutely splendid job of keeping it all on track. Moving into a more comfortable phase of her own journey with cancer, she took time off work and spared no effort to see that everything went smoothly. So she was our number one guest at Dave’s birthday dinner on 20th; it was a neat way to bring our 80th celebrations to an end.
We didn’t manage to speak to everyone personally last Saturday. So this is an appreciation of all that was done for us and said to us over the last few days—and years. To have such friends, to be held in such high regard and to be able to move forward with each other, is as much as anyone can possibly ask.
Our thanks and love to all
Bev and Dave Mullan