Throwback Thursday: Birthday Girl

phoofsy movie1
June 26, 1995
Looking extra, super fine, especially my bangs.


For my grandmother’s 75th birthday, my mom and her sisters surprised her and flew/drove in to the lake to celebrate – bringing their daughters (my cousins and me) with them, so it would be a true girls’ weekend. (Except that I was in the throes of angsty adolescent love and insisted that Nick – my college boyfriend whom I’d been dating for only a year – accompany me. Nothing says romance like joining your girlfriend’s female relatives to celebrate her grandmother’s 75th birthday. And nothing says family time like bringing your teenage boyfriend along on a girls’ only getaway. I was cool like that.)

For my grandmother’s 80th birthday, my grandfather rented an 1860s-era replica paddleboat – one that still plies the waters of our lake (albeit not by water wheel) and serves meals to those making the journey – for all of their family and friends. I remember having a blast listening to the band play and waving to our house from the boat, as opposed to the other day around.

memorial day lady
We weren’t riding this time, but this is the boat. Very Huck Finn, no?

For her 90th birthday, my extended family came to celebrate. By now, Ella and Annie were around, so they participated in the festivities, too.

Birthday card giving…

Post birthday card hugging…

The next day, while we lounged on the dock, my grandma – whom my children (and often we) refer to as Phoofsy – took herself out in the kayak.Phoofsy kayaking one day after turning 90
Isn’t that how you plan to observe your 90th? On a freakin’ solo KAYAK RIDE??


For her 92nd birthday, we decided to nearly kill her by presenting her with a musical, spinning, flowery candle of death. She was thrilled, but that might have been because the temporary blindness messed with her reasoning abilities.
phoofsy bday3
Instead of a cake, I’d made her a peach cobbler, which is currently her favorite dessert – or so she says…
Peach cobblers hold flaming balls of death very nicely.

Until I was 31, I lived a minimum of 5.5 hours away from my grandparents – which meant that I didn’t see them more than a few times each year, and very rarely celebrated birthdays with them. Since moving to Rochester seven years ago, it has been our honor to spend all of our birthdays together – especially when flaming balls of fire are involved.

Today marks my grandma’s 94th birthday, and we have come to the lake once more to be with her. Again, we gave her cards and talked and devoured peach cobbler. Don’t worry that the repetition means that she’s lowing down, however; she is currently playing bridge with a friend via iPad.

On the one hand, I sure hope I make it to 75 and 80 and 90 and 92 and 94. But it has to be worth the ride, you know? As Phoofsy is fond of saying, “It’s no good if you can’t have fun anymore.” Thank God, she’s still having fun – be it through cobbler or kayaks, bridge or boats, family or friends.

Looking at the candles that adorned the dessert, Ella marveled that, if we switched them around, Phoofsy could be turning 49. Given that every medical professional we meet does an actual double-take upon seeing my Gram’s birth date (“OhmyGod, I thought you were only 80 at the most!”), Ella might not have been that far off. If I can kick even half as much ass at 49 as my grandmother is at 94, I will consider that I’ve lead one hell of a wonderful life.

That is, i I can survive the musical candles of death. Those things are crazy, even if, like Phoofsy, you do kick butt and take names.

5 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Birthday Girl

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