This past weekend, we made our way across the continent to partake in the celebration of my sister-in-law’s “Half-Birthday.” Being a Holiday baby, her birthday was somehow perpetually overshadowed by the frenzy of holiday celebrations, end-of-year office parties, exhaustive shopping for presents, dining, drinking, and other expressions of merriment. Or so she fervently believed. She was determined for this year, her 60th, to be different. And so, as early four months ago, she sent off save-the-date cards. The formal invitation followed later.
She wanted to celebrate her milestone year with 60 well-chosen women, who, she explained, have in various ways, enriched her life. My daughter and I were among the privileged to be invited. For the dinner-dance, we were allowed to bring along a date for the evening celebration. Of course, I was bringing along hubby, her brother.
The weekend was filled with long hours hanging out in her spacious kitchen in Chappaqua, over coffee, over a meal, or a good red. Or at the conservatory, where we all lounged and recalled time-honored tales and anecdotes. Some of her high school and college friends were there. All of her siblings (real and adopted!), spouses, nieces and nephews came too. Through much laughter, mock indignation, and dry humor, we shared favorite one-liners, fearless escapades, and brushes with authority figures.
The main events happened on the Sunday. All the women were invited to the inveterate girlfriends’ lunch. The men and significant others were relegated to their golf or a hike at the Rockefeller Estate. We all met people from the Neighbors’ Link, the Non-Profits, friends from the U.N. days, extended family. People flew in from various parts of the country, from Manila, from Canada. Some of us had crossed paths 10, 20, even almost 30 years ago. She brought us all together at the country club’s library, to rekindle ties, to meet new friends, and to enjoy a few hours of roasting and toasting our celebrant. We were regaled with stories of great kindness and generosity, of abundant talent and capability, of great artistic sense and accomplishment. And of course, there were the “-isms.” These are well-worn tales of her exploits, jaunts, off-the-cuff pronouncements and comments that have buttressed many a spirited conversation of and around her. Stories of great admiration and praise. Stories that poked affectionate fun. Stories that proved how she has become so indelibly endeared into everyone’s hearts.
The day was capped off with a dinner-dance pool-side at the club. The heavens decided to grace us with a lovely evening for the most part. Gone was the oppressively humid heat that plagued the East for days. We dined and danced under the skies, again, with family, friends, and welcome extensions. As the clock edged its way to midnight, we bid the celebration adieu. The weekend was all at once a testimonial to enduring relationships, strong independent women, remarkable achievements, and the glue who made it all come together so seamlessly.
Happy Half-Birthday, Agnes!
Girlfriends (by Likeitiz June 22, 2012)