You Bring the Celebration Where It Needs to Be

One advantage I had in marrying Kevin was that I was lucky enough to marry into his family.  I am a lucky woman indeed when it comes to my in-laws.

A few years ago two of my coworkers were having a conversation complaining about their in-laws and asked me if I got along with my mother-in-law.

I said, "I adore my mother-in-law."

They were shocked and said, "Nobody adores their mother-in-law."

I said, "I have an exceptional mother-in-law."

Since the early days of our relationship Kevin's family welcomed me in and we never turn down a reason to spend time with them.

So let's talk about Eleanor, this exceptional mother-in-law of mine.  She is a lovely woman who recently turned 94 years young.  Her mind is still sharp and her wit is intact.  Her good looks are still evident.  Her personal style is still exquisite.  When looking at, and talking to her, we see all we love about her sons.

When you are in your 90s, every birthday is precious, and with that in mind, Kevin's brother and sister-in-law almost always come from Illinois, and Kevin's nephew comes from Boston, to celebrate.  Kevin's brother knows how to throw a good party and these birthdays are often grand occasions.  In the past four years we either celebrated at expensive steakhouses with an excess of wine and overpriced hunks of cow, or else we had brunch at the posh Peninsula Hotel.

This year things were different.  This past year has not been an easy time for the family.  Last summer, our good family friend Arlene began having health problems.  First it was knee surgery.  Then it was West Nile Virus.  She was comatose for weeks.  By the time she was recovered, her muscles had atrophied to the point where she couldn't get out of bed.  She moved to a rehab home where she has slowly been learning to walk again.

We couldn't have a birthday party for Eleanor without Arlene.  That much was settled, so the fancy steakhouse dinners were out.  We had to do something to include her.  We would bring the party to her.  We ordered takeout food from a local pizza place and took over a rec room. 

I even took it upon myself to bake a cake.  I love being able to do this sort of thing for my family.  It's not something I can do when we go out.  Kevin and I also had some champagne in the house that someone gave him for his birthday.  He can't drink, so this was the perfect excuse to use it.  We also had a bottle of sparkling rose` we brought home from Spain that we never got around to drinking.  We were making this party festive in our unique way.

Getting to the rehab home is never easy.  It is in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Jamaica.  The last time we visited Arlene, Kevin had to circle the block or put his blinkers on and double park because there were no parking spaces in the neighborhood.  Everyone else went inside and Kevin talked to Arlene on her phone.  For the party, Kevin's brother took care of the parking issue having a car service pick us up at home and take us there and then drive us back at the end of the day.  That was the one posh aspect of our day.

The highlight of the party came when Arlene came into the rec room. I didn't see her when she was in the coma, but many members of my family did.  I saw her in the hospital when she came out of the coma when she couldn't speak or get out of bed.  The next time I saw her, she was talking, but still confined to a wheelchair.  This day she walked into the room with the help of a walker and a physical therapist.
It could not have been a better party.  We didn't have the noise or distractions of a restaurant.  We were able to spread out and relax around the table. When you have family, you make a happy occasion however you can.

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