I believe the last big Fifty party has come and gone - and it was a Grand Finale, just like at the end of a fabulous 4th of July fireworks show.
Of course, I have to make it clear that Rae is not 50. Yet. She is hanging on tight to 49 for three more days. But that didn't stop us from celebrating, because we're celebrating her and our friendship, as much as a date on the calendar.
In typical Rae-fashion, this party felt like a gift from her to all of us. There was Mexican food, frozen margaritas, the Grateful Geezers, and a dance floor. There were people at this party that haven't even been to a class reunion - people from other classes that I haven't seen in over thirty years - interesting people I'd never met before - and even one of my elementary school teachers who was barely old enough to teach back then and doesn't look like she's aged a day in forty years.
I regret that I didn't spend more time visiting, but once the Grateful Geezers started playing, I couldn't leave the dance floor. They are fantastic! It was like they cast a spell on me - one great dance song after another - and I couldn't resist. Thank goodness they had the same effect on many of the others - I was never alone on the dance floor, that's for sure. I even somehow persuaded Tom to polka with me (there must have been magic in the air!)
Between the heat, humidity, and dancing, I was soaking wet with sweat; my hair was plastered to my head, and I had blisters on my feet, but I didn't care (well...I admit that in the group picture, I stood on the ledge in the back with the other members of the Thinning Hair Club...all guys of course.)
Knowing how much it means to Rae to give to others, for her birthday several of us surprised her by pitching in and donating $600 to a scholarship fund set up in her brother Milton's name at the local college. Milton was killed in a hunting accident several years ago, and the scholarship fund is just one of many ways they keep his memory alive. We also set aside a little for a gift card to a nursery - Rae is addicted to planting beautiful things in her yard. Not a bad vice, really.
After we planned our gift, a Pasadena policeman was killed in the line of duty. Again, in typical Rae-fashion she requested donations on behalf of his wife and small children in lieu of gifts to herself. By the end of the night she had over $1800 to present to them.
The night ended way too soon, despite what my feet were telling me. Tom and I were among the last to straggle out the door.
The next morning, after relaxing with Mama and Daddy, and enjoying lunch at Chili's with my siblings, we headed back to Austin...but not straight home.
First, we went downtown to pick up a few things at the grocery store for Kendall (and Daniel since we were going), making the mistake of going to Central Market, which we discovered just masquerades as a grocery store - it's really a serpentine, tunnel-like maze lined with expensive, imported things you can't find anywhere else, and that take the place of the simple (and cheap) things we needed for the kids. I wish I'd taken my camera in, though, for a shot of the woman in front of us with the pink hair and matching pink tail pinned to the rear of her jacket. Yep, we were back in Austin.
Entertained, but empty-handed, we headed to a nearby Randall's - still too expensive but at least they had lunchmeat - made our deliveries to my babies (collected my hugs and kisses), then still had to stop at my HEB for our groceries (pretty good variety, cheaper prices, and good music playing in the background) before we could finally roll down our dirt road to the house.
What a weekend...but totally worth the bags under my eyes and the blisters on my feet. Thank you, Rae! Now, when do the Fifty-One parties start?
Barbara (otherwise known as "Ms. Haygood" in our previous lives), with me and former classmates, Mike and David...
Presenting Rae with her representative "check" made out to the scholarship fund (Leslie did such a great job making the check!)
The Grateful Geezers singing to Rae...
Our group of Deer Park High School class of '77 - including Dave, our newly adopted "foreign exchange student" from New Zealand (really Rae and her husband's guide from their trip this year, but we just couldn't exclude him!)
Mama and Daddy at lunch on Sunday...