Grandma’s 80th Birthday

My Mother was turning 80 and at the last minute had planned a weekend in Chicago with her only sister Meryle, myself and my two sisters. My Mom and her sister arrived at Union Station on Amtrack Friday night. It would be the first time my aunt had come to visit us in the city. My mother and her sister had grown up in Chicago, just about six blocks north of where we live. It was very exciting for them to be back in the old neighborhood.

There were general plans made for the weekend. The schedule was not packed full – after all it takes time to get from one place to another with an eighty and eighty-four year old.

A few dinners, a little shopping and a little sightseeing. Always planning time to return to the hotel for anyone who needed a rest.

We took the bus to Millennium Park to see the famous Bean, Buckingham Fountain and the lake. We walked down Michigan Avenue as mom pointed out historical buildings. The birthday weekend was full of laughter, conversations and photo opportunities.

There is a joke among my sisters and I about our growing up years. Our mother was never heard saying the word breast. We grew up with chicken “chests” not chicken
breasts.” In fact this information has spread out to our circle of friends and you will commonly hear one of them order chicken “chest” at dinner. As the waitress stood at the end of the table making her recommendations for the Lemon Chicken “Breast,” my mother held out her hands as if she was holding something and asked; “how big are the breasts?” It sent us all into uncontrollable laughter. My sister stood to her feet, hands in the air and announced; “Hallelujah, she’s been freed”. The laughter continue for what seemed hours. Unable to catch our breath we laughed from our souls. We had grown up referring to chicken breasts as with chicken chests our whole life and today Mom could finally say “breasts.
People can change…at the age of eighty.

We watch the relationship between two sisters, how one dominated the other and knew how to push all the buttons. We took turns walking slowly with our aunt. Each time someone new joined our little group we immediately paired them up, allowing the newest member of the group the opportunity to walk slowly. We ordered $9 drinks that could fit in a shot glass and consumed all the free birthday deserts we could get. “We are celebrating her 80th birthday” became the opening remarks to the waitress, hoping it would get us a free desert at the end of the meal.

The weekend ended quickly. There are so many changes ahead for all of us.  Couple this with the joy of being with these two lovely ladies in their eighties and it is a good reminder to make the most of being together. This has been a memorable weekend and perhaps the last time this group would party in the city of Chicago.

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