“As I was lying in bed this morning, I said to my husband, “How do you know you’ve had a successful life?: When 80 people come out in a blizzard for your birthday party.”
One of my mother’s friends said this to me the morning after we threw a surprise 60th birthday party for my mother. In a blizzard. Of course, we couldn’t have predicted the weather. In fact, Dad was sure that we were really over reacting to the weather reports. “It’s not going to be that bad,” he tried to whisper to us when mom was in another room. But as the time for the party drew nearer, even he wondered if people would come.
Our plan was this: tell Mom we were going to a prix-fixe dinner they were having at the banquet hall next door to the restaurant where we usually had a family meal during the holidays. The problem: Mom wanted to stay home and cook Beef Wellington. Well, she couldn’t really do that because dad refused to buy the beef – said it was too expensive this year. So Mom, ever the diplomat in the family, begrudgingly agreed to go.
“I’m going to meet a friend at the bar for a drink before dinner – I’ll meet you there,” said my sister Meg. She did meet her friend. For a drink. At a bar. But it happened to be the open bar for our party. And the drink was had after she set up the projector and speakers for the slide show put together by another sister and brother-in-law.
I, too, was to meet my family there. When I arrived, the events planner was stunned at the number of people who had already shown up for the party. She told me, “but as I watched people taking off their coats, just about everybody said, ‘well, of course we’d come out for Jeanne.'” Yes, we threw a party during the first major snowstorm of the season and only three people canceled due to the weather.
I don’t know that a successful life is measured by the numbers. But if it’s measured by what your friends and family will do for you, then my mom has surely had a most successful life indeed.