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90 years

September 20th, 2010

Dad opening cards So, here I am in St. Charles, spending a week with the Swenson family to celebrate my Dad’s 90th birthday. Ninety years. That’s an incredibly long time to be here, isn’t it? Just think of how much has changed since 1920. Color movies. Television. Cellphones. The internet. And that’s just technology. The world’s a different place too. And it’s a reminder, at least to me, that things always change. And part of life is just flowing with that.

I got in late on Wednesday night after a lovely Porter flight from Toronto to Midway, and a short jaunt on the Orange Line and a longer jaunt on Metra rail. When I arrived, Mom picked me up from the train station with my brother Dick and his son Adam. At home, my brother Don was still up to say hi and catch up a bit. The next day, his son Trevor drove in from Saulte St. Marie Ontario. And his daughter Angie flew from Oregon to stay with his other daughter Sherrie. By Friday when my sister Caroline and sister-in-law Linda drove down the driveway, we had a house full of Swensons.

We played bocce. We opened presents. We ate a lot, and none of it resembled fresh veggies. I sometimes forget about midwestern food, how so much of it is made of things like Cream of Mushroom soup and Strawberry Jello, and how it’s all delicious, nonetheless.

Dad and Katia

Family. So much of it. I’ve rarely been here for enough time as an adult to really have time to enjoy their company. I didn’t grow up with my brothers and sisters. Well, I did, but since they’re all about 30 years older, they were more like aunts and uncles, “company” to behave in front of. This visit has changed a little more. Don and I have gotten to know each other better and better over the last year with Dad being sick. He’s been able to come and be here for so much of that. And Trevor too, the closest nephew to me in age, and really the closest to live to us in Toronto… well, it’s been fun. And there’ve been a lot of late nights up in the kitchen catching up over a C&C and Sprite.

Don taking my picture taking his picture

Dad’s doing ok. He’s mostly in a wheelchair now, but can take a few steps with the walker when he needs to. We took him out for dinner to one of those cool “family restaurants” with the seven page menu and jello for dessert. And we took him to church yesterday morning. He’s not always that ‘with it’, though. You can see how the dementia is affecting him. He’s sometimes confused as to where he is, or who he’s talking to. But more often than not, he can follow the conversation and respond to questions. He’s just pretty quiet.

I think the weekend was really good for him, even if it was a bit overwhelming at times. He had some great conversations with his grandchildren and children. And I feel really lucky to be here too.

So, it’s been a great week so far, and I have a few days left here in good old STC. Tomorrow I’m off to the city to see my good friends at Lorna’s Laces, then reconnect for dinner and a Cubs game (!!!!!) with my oldest friend Paul. No joke, we have photos of each other at the age of only a month or two. So that’ll be really neat.


All the cards… you guys, it’s just amazing. He’s loving reading the addresses and your sweet notes. Each day there’ve been 15 or 20, and I think a few more are trickling in every day. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the time you put in to making his birthday so much more special.

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7 Responses to “90 years”

  1. Gingy Says:

    How lovely! My card has somehow not been mailed (husband!), but I will make a point to take it to the post office tomorrow.

  2. Anita Says:

    You dad looks very good in those pictures. I’m glad for him, you, and all of your family that he made it through his illnesses. This sounds like one of the weekends that makes the heart and the family stronger.

    I tweeted to you about my dad’s cancer recently – there is good news on that front. He will be having surgery this week, they couldn’t find any cancer other than the knot on his neck.

    Like you, I am not ready to say goodbye to my dad. I’m so glad for you for this weekend.

  3. Tammy Says:

    The second picture is so sweet. My dad is getting up there in age, though not as old as your dad yet. He still has a ton of medical problems and I’m not ready for him to go yet. It is nice to have family gather for these milestones, nice to have the memories and the pictures. Take care and Happy birthday to your dad a few days late.

  4. Theo Says:

    OMG your description of the food – yikes. My mom used the same “food” (is it?) including Velveta cheese – HA… if that is cheese so am I. Thanks for sharing…. I had almost fogotten (blessedly) about “jello salads” with nuts and cream cheese and canned fruit…

    So glad your dad had a great birthday…It’s a big one!

  5. Shell Says:

    Happy Birthday.

  6. Kathryn Says:

    Hey, looks like a great day all the way around. (Is the 2nd card on the pile mine?)


  7. Susanne Says:

    What a wonderful way to celebrate such a special day.
    Happy Birthday.

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