Eighty is a wonderful age

On Monday, my mother celebrated her 80th birthday.
She is still very much young at heart. Last Thursday, she took her driver’s license test again. And on passing, she was as excited as a teenager getting their first licence.
She travels with a group of ladies around town and the group always is heading to a tea, a bake sale, the farmers’ market, or wherever their curiosity draws them.
And having a set of wheels makes it possible to visit those places.
At 80, independence is a wonderful thing. And my mother definitely is an independent lady.
Today at 80, she is a spry and sharp individual who will ask you to go lightly on her when playing cards. But as my sons learned this summer, they have a few things to learn from her.
Her day begins early with a trip to the gym, so she can stay in shape. Then home for breakfast and off to work. Arriving shortly after 9 a.m., she has a dozen jobs to get done—and an active social calendar to keep up with.
And often after a day at work, she will volunteer to assist some organization in the evening.
When we tried to get together for a family supper, it became apparent that we hadn’t booked time into her social calendar far enough in advance.
Five years ago, on her birthday, she was flying home from the Virgin Islands when her plane was grounded in San Juan, Puerto Rico due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Everything was being closed down and the airline people all had been told to go home.
Fortunately, someone came to her rescue and got her to a hotel, but it was several days later before airlines finally were able to resume their flights. Her 75th birthday had not so pleasant memories.
Her 80th birthday was much different. Her three children were given explicit orders not to do anything special to mark the anniversary. Instead, all of her “children” here at the Times office got together to give her a big birthday celebration.
Her corner of the office was decorated. A giant cake was purchased, and all of her friends were invited to drop by for coffee and cake.
As my mother walked through the door to work Monday morning, the staff greeted her at the door with “Happy Birthday.” She was startled and brought to tears.
And then her friends began trickling in. Sorority members each walked in with a rose and filled several vases with their flowers. And over the course of the day, others walked in and she offered them a piece of cake.
Eighty is a wonderful age. We love you.

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