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Wednesday, July 7

come together

Months ago the missives started. There would be a celebration, a reunion, a coming together of the clan in honor of Dottie's 90th birthday. It would be on the 4th of July weekend, even though her real birthday was in the Fall. A bunch of rooms at the Hampton Inn were reserved, the caterer was hired, a family tree was designed, photos were collected, tasks were assigned. It was hard to imagine the Long Island heat and humidity when this all began, almost impossible to picture dozens of people in Summer clothes under a shelter in the park. But then, here it was and we were off to the reunion.

A word about "Dottie". She is Russell's Mom and I am crazy about her. She accepts everyone, flaws and all, but there is nothing sugary about her. She is just real. I guess raising 9 (nine!) kids sort of makes you reassess priorities and save the negativity for stuff that really matters. She is almost blind and almost deaf but her mind and wit are intact and firing. She never complains about what she is lacking. She smiles and carries on, waving off concern, laughing at her deficits, poking fun at herself. There is always a little smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.

They passed around a guest book at the party and in it I wrote that the best thing Russell ever gave me was the opportunity to share his Mom. And I mean it.

We left our hotel early on the day of the party because we had a task. Pick up balloons. Lucked out on that one, I thought. Has to be the easiest assignment of the day. The balloons were helium. There were 25 of them. They did not behave.

We spent about an hour tying the balloons to weights and setting them on tables before people started to arrive. And then the caterers. Relatives bearing goodies and old photos. There was coffee and bagels in the morning that magically morphed into lunch from the grill and then made way for more deserts than I have ever seen in one place.

And through it all, Dottie smiled and the family laughed and hugged and everyone said how wonderful it was really almost perfect and wasn't the weather great?

Rumor has it that plans for her 95th are underway.

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