The little house rocked!! Nine adults and four “greats” came to celebrate Max’s 70th birthday. Son Steve and Michelle, plus grandson Nathan, daughter Dee and husband Rick all joined Max and me for church at the Salem Presbyterian Church, where he has been a devoted member since 1961. We filled the back row and Max had to sit on the next row with his friends Roger and Carolyn. Other than Steve hitting up his father for money for the collection plate as it was passed around, causing the rest of the family to shake with silent laughter, the service went well. Pastor Sara congratulated Max, welcomed his family, and asked the choir to lead in singing “Happy Birthday.”
Following church, we visited with friends in the church parlor for a while and then had coffee at home before setting out for Backroads, a local steak restaurant. Grandson Rod, Michelle, and baby Emily [8 months] were waiting when we arrived and grandson Ethan, with Erica, and their family, Rhett , Riley , and Bailey [19 months] soon arrived. The children were seated across from Grandpa Great, where their antics and conversation entertained him and the rest of us. When Rhett was distracted for a moment, younger brother Riley grabbed Rhett’s cheeseburger and ate a few bites. The Greats were really quite well behaved in the cheerful, messy way of small children.
Soon, we piled back into our cars and drove home for ice cream and cake. The cake was decorated with balloons naming each great-grandchild, six in all. Rhett and Riley were excited to point to the balloons with their names. After Grandpa-Great managed to blow out a symbolic seven candles, Dee, Michelle, and Erica cut the cake and dipped up the ice cream. We settled the children at the living room coffee table to eat, though as soon as they could, the boys ran upstairs to play with blocks and matchbox cars. Bailey toddled around while Emily lolled on the floor. Grandpa Great held court from his SHS chair and the room shook with talk and laughter.
I felt someone tugging at my sleeve. I turned and saw that Rhett had brought down the plastic background, about the size of a placemat, that came with the plastic play animals.
“Grandmother, I found a map! We’re going on a treasure hunt.”
At first, I was dumb and said he had the sheet that went with the play animals, but he said, “No, it’s a treasure map!” So, I caught on and got into the game. Right there in the crowd in the living room, we went on the treasure hunt. He pointed to places on the map and we zigged here and zagged there.
“Oh…there’s the treasure,” he pointed. And there it was, Hershey’s candies in the dish.
“Take the red one,” I said.
He sneaked forward and grabbed the treasure—and scampered off. Imaginative children are so delightful.
All too soon it was time to take the family group picture, gather children, find shoes, pick up the scattered blocks, put on coats and hats, and go home. One minute the house is full of talk and laughter—-and then, it is still and quiet. Rather taken aback at the transformation, we sat down to rest, Max basking in a glow of happiness. So far, he’s only said dozens of times, “What a wonderful day!”