Reflections on a 60th Birthday Party

Saturday evening, we were blessed to celebrate my wife Rita’s 60th birthday with about 100 friends and family. What always strikes me about events like this is the variety of people we have come to know over the years. Friendship can blossom in any setting, and my lovely wife is a testimony to that. There are, of course, family friendships that have deep strong roots and then there are friendships from shared activities or business relationships.  Examples include things that Rita has participated in over the years, including tennis, aerobic dancing (jazzercise), and Bible study (to name a few).

To relate to others is to live. As part of the celebration of Rita’s 60 years, I asked someone to help me assemble a scrapbook of some of Rita’s most cherished moments.  When I say “help,” I really mean “rescue.” You see, while I had a grand idea, I had no aptitude for the execution of that idea. Enter a new friend, Anna Slocum (scrapbooker extraordinaire) who my son-in-law, James Arkell, found through the “Scrapbook Page” store located at 13205 Shawnee Mission Parkway in Shawnee, Kansas. Anna did all of the actual work and I supplied her with information, ideas, and themes to incorporate. She handled the rest.  One hundred and six pages, 203 pictures, and 83 mementos later, we had a two-volume scrapbook that reflects the joy and beauty of Rita’s life.

Once the books were in my hands, I had to decide how to present them to Rita. I was concerned that delivering them at her party might distract her from what she enjoys most – relating to others, and dancing. My instincts proved to be correct (yes, occasionally we men do get it right!) and I presented the scrapbooks to her Saturday afternoon in the quiet of our home. Her reaction? Gratitude, amazement, and joyful tears triggered by so many memories.  We offer our sincere compliments and appreciation to Anna Slocum for a job well done.

After Rita reviewed both books, she got very enthusiastic about a newspaper photo that showed her dancing in the background in an aerobic dance class. The clipping was from 1973, and Rita said the instructor had come from Dallas to Kansas State University to introduce the campus to a novel way of exercising – aerobic dancing. Rita is so grateful to have been a part of that seminal moment, and she became dedicated to various forms of aerobic dancing over the years. As a husband, I am grateful for all of Rita’s friendships and amazed at her joy for living. She lives full throttle, but by no means recklessly. I am humbled to be the man in her life.