Knowing that this birthday was approaching we all asked Joyce on numerous occasions what she would like for her 80th birthday. Finally, in June during a visit home, Joyce told her daughter Jenni, “all I want for my birthday is for my 4 children to take me out to dinner.” That had to include spouses and significant others, and of course her 5 Grandchildren, 16 people in all.
The 80th birthday event weekend planning began. Pat and his siblings had a constant stream of text messages going back and forth and finally most everything was settled. Pat and I flew to Detroit on Wednesday, the 29th of August, his 3 kids flew in on Thursday, Pat’s sister Jenni arrived on Friday and her husband and 2 boys arrived on Saturday. We put some mileage on the cars with the frequent trips to the Detroit Metro airport https://www.metroairport.com/ over the weekend but it was all worth it.
The birthday weekend kicked off on Friday evening with a backyard barbecue at Pat’s brother Mike’s house. Mike and his girlfriend Colleen were the perfect hosts for Burgers, chips, salads, a fire in the firepit for S’mores and some great local beers. It all made for a fun evening of talking and catching up with each other.
Saturday afternoon, Pat and I met his sister-in-law Kim at her shop, Carriage House Designs in Howell, MI to pick up decorations. With Kim showing us were to go, the 3 of us ran to pick up flowers and balloons to take with us to our venue, Diamonds Steak and Seafood House right there in Howell. We took everything to the restaurant set up and had enough time to run back to change and reappear for dinner back at the Steakhouse at 6.
The Birthday evening began at 6 pm, with everyone arriving in their Sunday best. We started the evening with drinks and appetizers and had the choice of Filet Mignon, Chicken or Salmon. Dinner was followed with a lovely toast given by #1 brother Mike, followed by an incredible
cake from M Street Baking Company in Howell.
I wanted to take photos, but all odds were on a high degree of difficulty with a dimly lit room, black walls, mirrors, glass window and nothing to bounce the flash off except for the white ceiling. Not at all the type of room a photographer wants to see. Ack!!!! Every bit of my flash knowledge was put on the line that evening, and I was very thankful for the Justin and Mary Marantz Lighting Intensive workshop I had attended in February.
I started panicking though, because this was the only time I could capture a photo of our whole group with everyone present. I had thought we could do photos outside because we could probably do a great golden light location of the downtown area, but we were suddenly under a severe thunderstorm warning as dinner was finishing up. So, I tried to move tables out of the way, set up chairs and started to move everyone into place. I grabbed the waitress who was very gracious to be my photographer, and this is the photo she got on the first try. Everyone’s eyes were open, even a catch light and the only one that was looking away was Pat’s Dad Tom who I think was just enjoying the moment.
Overall, the evening was a huge success. The photos were my way to say that this moment would stay. It would be remembered long after the candle were blown out and family traveled back home. It will be remembered not as any birthday, but as the birthday we all came together to celebrate a wonderful and beautiful woman known as a Wife, Mom and Grandma as she turned 80. It was all about family, going the distance to make something special happen and it was everything to do with creating a wonderful experience that Joyce later said was the best birthday she ever had.