The older I get, the younger everyone else looks! – Linda Palmer
When my mother turned 65, she started getting all that “fun” mail… you know, all the “old people” mail. She was visibly angered and depressed about it. As her only child, I knew I had my work cut out for me to make her 65th birthday a happy one. She was a valentine baby – her birthday was February 15th, but we always celebrated with lots of hearts and roses. The normal routine was for me to bake her a heart-shaped cake with number candles on top. I had to do something extra special for her 65th… I had no idea what that would be, but I had to nail it. And this year I didn’t think she’d like having the numbers 6 and 5 staring at her from a heart-shaped cake.
Mama loved girly things like hairstyles and makeovers and spa stuff. Our Towne West mall was only 7 years old in 1987. It was fun and hopping and there were all sorts of girly stores at the time. I wanted her to be pampered, but on my budget I couldn’t afford very much. I went in to Dillard’s to talk to a sweet lady in the cosmetic department.
Lisa was not a young person but not old either. She listened to my story about how mom was celebrating a milestone and she had received all this mail that made her feel like it was time to go out to pasture. She understood exactly what I was talking about and we plotted and planned such a great makeover for her! Lisa and I talked for TWO hours! She didn’t seem to be concerned that she’d lost some sales in that time. I was so impressed with her. This was one birthday that I knew my mama was going to enjoy.
There’s something you should know about me… I never get away with surprising anybody – EVER! I am the worst surprise party giver that ever lived. I was so afraid that somehow my mom was going to find out about her surprise makeover. I swore my family to secret – all two of them – but they were both men, so… my husband and my dad. My bases were covered… and I was so anxious for the Saturday before her birthday to roll around.
Saturday rolled around. There was not any significant snowfall, for which I was thankful. My boss said we didn’t have to work, for which I was even more thankful. Everything was working out great! I called mom just to make sure she was getting ready to go. She said, “Oh, I’m not sure I feel up to it today. Can we go out next week?”
NO NO NO – we can’t!!! I didn’t say it, but I sure thought it. OK, compose yourself and don’t appear too eager. “Well, you know I’ve worked most Saturdays lately and I didn’t have to work today, so I may not get another opportunity to get out on a Saturday again for a while.”
There was a pause in the conversation that seemed to last forever. I waited for a response… wait for it… wait for it…
“Oh, okay. I’ll be ready when you get here.”
YES – SCORE!
I got off the phone, grabbed my purse, dug out my keys and headed out the door. As I got in the car, I saw the first snowflake. I thought, “OK, we can get this done quick and get back before it gets too bad.”
When I got to mom’s, she was not quite dressed. From the looks of things, she had tried on about 4 different outfits. I looked at my watch and looked out the window… it was getting late and the snow was falling. It’s my mom… it’s her day… and she needs to feel pretty. She was always pretty. The only one who never knew it was her – even though I told her every day.
I gave her my honest opinions about what looked best and she got dressed. She put on her coat and we cautiously walked to the car. The snow was still just drifting around and didn’t look like it was going to be too bad. Yay – we were on our way to the mall. I was so excited.
Once in the car, mom said, “Are you sure you want to go to the mall today? It looks like it’s going to snow like this for a while.” I assured her that it will be fine – just fine. I was determined that this was going to happen for her. She was the best mom in the world and deserved the best birthday.
We made it to the mall and I parked as close as I could to Dillard’s. Surprisingly, mom didn’t ask what we were doing at that particular store, but I had a story all ready. I used it anyway because it took me so long to come up with it – “I just need to quick grab a new mascara here at Dillard’s and they’re the only ones who have what I like.” See – isn’t that a great excuse??? I thought so. Actually, the only make-up I buy is from Walmart and there is no counter. I can’t afford make-up from behind a counter.
We slowly walked to the door. The snow was starting to stick a little more now, but I wasn’t overly concerned. My mind was on mom’s surprise birthday present.
When I saw Lisa, she got the biggest smile on her face! “Hello, Mrs. Turner!” You should have seen the look on mama’s face. She couldn’t figure out why this lady knew her name! It was funny and one of the best memories tucked in my mind. Lisa and I started laughing and explained what was going on to my poor mother.
I knew at that moment that it was worthwhile… the time, the effort, the planning. I think it was the best time and mom felt so special and pampered. I bought a few of her favorite products and she bought a few. We laughed and chatted and we were just girls being girls – of all ages. I think for a little while, mama forgot she was 65, she forgot about the mail, the stigma, the meaning behind being that particular age.
I’m not good at surprise parties as a general rule. I try to make birthdays special and sometimes I think surprises are fun – but on my mom’s 65th birthday… I NAILED IT!
When she was all prettied up, we waded back out to the car. The snow had stopped falling and it wasn’t freezing, so we pulled into Spear’s restaurant across the street to get a cup of coffee. I mentioned that it was my mother’s birthday, and the waitress gave us a free piece of pumpkin bread, which tastes more like cake. It was our family’s favorite treat year around, not just in the autumn months.
I wish I could have taken a photo. We didn’t have digital cameras back then. I didn’t make a habit of carrying my Polaroid camera around with me. My mother was beautiful – and more importantly, she felt beautiful and that made me very happy!
If you know a senior citizen, give them a call or visit them and let them know how much they mean to you. They just want to know they are still important to someone. Happy National Senior Citizens Day! 🙂