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February 2006 was a big month for birthdays in my family. On Feb. 13th, my son turned 30, on the 15th, my brother turned 50, and on the 16th, I turned 60. I was in the first year of the baby boomers and my brother in the last year. I keep good company with some very famous people turning 60 this year: Diane Keaton, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Cher, Goldie Hawn, Sylvester Stallone and the list goes on and on.
How was I going to celebrate such a momentous occasion? I decided it should be in a place where I could eat not only my favorite food, but also an ERFYT appropriate meal. So, I picked an International Buffet. I will admit I did a little cheating with Alaskan crab legs and some shrimp. This place had such a huge selection, so the guests had no problem finding something to eat. We had a private room for about 40 family and friends.
My daughter and son-in-law arranged everything, and the theme was “Calling All Angels.” The tables were decorated with a lot of angels from my collection. This birthday was not only celebrating a milestone in my life, but also survival for 10 years from a diagnosis of breast cancer. According to medical hexing in the beginning, I wasn’t supposed to see this birthday.
The present I gave myself was to have a video slideshow made of my life. I’ve been an amateur photographer for years, and with 52 photo albums to pick from, I had a lot of crucial decisions to make. What pictures should I include? What music should I use?
Having taught a film class many years, I ended up really writing a screenplay; story boarding most of it, and having it put together by a professional videographer.
It took me at least 50 hours of work for my part of the video. The videographer stayed up nights to get it finished in time. And after some fine tuning and editing, the end result was spectacular. I thought it might bore the guests. It lasted about 40 minutes with 11 sequences including family history, our family life, a sequence on my father, friends, pets, friends, celebrations, trips, and finally a survivor’s tribute including a picture with Dr. D’Adamo and myself. The video was the absolute hit of the party. Several people asked for the soundtrack. That surprised me. I picked old time songs: The Theme from Major League about Cleveland, My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music, two hymns I would be True and Faith of Our Fathers, It’s a Wonderful World, Bless the Beasts and the Children. That’s What Friends Are For, Up Up And Away, Celebration, Sunrise Sunset and ending with the song Calling All Angels which showed all of my cancer walks and my survivor friends. It brought a lot of tears to some.
My old timer friends could really identify with my black and white pictures of my childhood. And everyone enjoyed seeing the childhood pictures of my children. There were several negative things about making the video. For one thing, it brought up a lot of loss issues. Many of the people in the video were no longer here. I cried a lot doing it. Especially the sequence about my father. And there was one very important picture missing in the video. No picture exists of my mother holding me. Apparently that one opportunity for picture taking that occurred before she died was my baptism, and it seems she took the pictures. She thought she had a whole lifetime with her newborn daughter, and she had eight weeks.
Also, there was a period in my life that was very difficult after my father remarried and I was almost nine. A lot of overcoming was needed for the next 13 years of my life. All that pain came flooding back as well. But I was determined to make that video realistic and honest. And I feel I accomplished my goal. Now it is just a joy to watch (except for the few sad parts)
After the showing of the video, it was very touching when my children, step children, and friends started talking about me. Letters were read including one from my brother and writings from two of my Amazon list serve “ bosom buddies.” It was something everyone should experience while they are alive to enjoy it. I sat there listening and shaking the whole time. I told them “I have had a “wonderful life.” (And hopefully more time to “live life to the fullest” as Dr. D’Adamo always says.)
Now that the partying is over, it is back to the real world. But that four hour party on Saturday is something I will never forget. It was a blast!!!!
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