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12:24 p.m. - May 30, 2006
Dad's Birthday Extravaganza!
Oh, Margaret. Thank goodness for aloe. Just sayin’…

Saturday was a real fun day at the ol’ Smed household. Well, actually, it wasn’t in the household at all. It was at the house of Niece Nurse, and it was the cookout for my Dad’s 82nd birthday.

My brother and his wife (as you know) were in town for this event and the Indy 500 and visiting most of the family around here. They got to spend some quality time with Mom and Dad and visited all of us for a while.

Of course, they came over during the hottest part of the year thus far, and it proved once and for all how hard it is to cool down a house of this size when it’s scorching hot and humid.

Liz and I were resisting turning on the air conditioner for quite a while. “It’s only May, you know. We can wait a minute.”

Hah. Right.

Come Thursday, we decided we had had enough so I flicked the switch from “heat” to “cool”, and then went upstairs to make sure the window unit in our bedroom was working.

Ah, sweet blessed relief!

In our guest room / computer room we had a fan set up as well, because that room, for whatever reason, doesn’t have any registers or vents. Well, it WAS the servant’s quarters back in the day, but still that doesn’t explain why it doesn’t have that stuff in it NOW.

(We had an air conditioner guy come out and look to see why the upstairs wasn’t getting any cold air. He took one look at the ductwork downstairs and walked away, shaking his head in fear and loathing…)

But as soon as the air was turned on, the house was less like a steambath. Sure, it was a bit toasty, but for cripes sake it was in the high 80’s / low 90’s with high humidity. And because we like to eat and wear clothes and watch DirecTV, we keep the thermostat at 75 degrees in the summer.

If we kept it any lower, we’d pay the GNP of Luxembourg in electric bills.

So it was a cool visit. My brother even helped out my softball team on Friday night play a game (masquerading as one of our players who is on the injured list because of a spider bite) and we retired to my favorite local watering hole for refreshments. But we were good boys, and didn’t ogle the barmaid (much) and got home at the prescribed hour.

Saturday, though, was going to be an event. Sure, the race was on Sunday, but that was easy, really. Just get up, make breakfast, and get in the car (well, as long as someone didn’t forget the tickets – just click back one for that saga). Saturday there was planning to do.

Liz’s job was to make the birthday cake for dad, bring some balloons, buns and meat (hamburgers and dogs), and engineer one special project for Dad’s birthday.

This was one of the only times that almost all of his grandchildren and great grandchildren would be in one place at the same time.

Because of the age differences with the kids, it’s kind of odd.

I’m 12 years behind my brother and 15 behind my sister. My brother and sister have children that also have kids. And Liz and I, of course, got a late start on that whole family thing (thanks to the trials of biology and what not). So Mom and Dad have great grandchildren as well as grandkids that are all pretty young. (They’re Mamaw Great and Papaw Great).

Of course, my kids slot in there with the great grandkids. So, Hoosier Niece’s daughter Dru, it’s “Papaw Great”, but for Katie, he’s “Papaw!” And trying to figure out the cousin relationship can be a bit tricky, especially to a four year old.

(Heck, even to me – I STILL have trouble figuring out what’s a second cousin or a cousin once removed. I just say that they’re all cousins. And sometimes that still doesn’t work. There are people that I KNOW are related to us that I can’t figure out how, because Liz and I haven’t got a real straight answer from Mom. Everytime we ask, there’s always a tangent and a detour down memory lane. Ah, well. Maybe one day…)

Veering back to the project, the idea was that all of the little grandkids and great grandkids would sign a big ol’ card for Dad on his birthday.

Originally, it was also going to be a group photo, and when they all went to the zoo on Friday. But the odds of getting a good picture with seven kids between the ages of 11 months and 10 years old, having them sit still, look forward, eyes front and a nice smile, not a goofy smile, is pretty much infinitesimal.

So the picture idea was scrapped, yet the card would go on.

I drove my brother (and the balloons) up to the cookout, while Liz drove the girls up with the food. We were rocking out to the mix I’m sending to Serena and he approved, BTW.

When we arrived, that’s when I realized how flippin’ hot it was.

But of course, at a cookout, you HAVE to go out by the grill. I mean, that’s where the action is, right?

So instead of staying in the air conditioner, most of us male folks were out by the grill, where Niece Nurses’ hubby was setting up shop. But he had an issue. The night before he was loading his son’s baseball team’s equipment into his truck, and somehow injured his wrist. So he was going to grill one handed.

He couldn’t open a beer, but he could grill. So we all helped him on the beer.

The kids all had fun playing outside (they have NO sense of heat and humidity, I swear – all the time it’s go on the swing and the slide) whilst us big folks were swapping bull stores about poker games, races, and other such nonsense.

Of course, most of the other food prep was done inside, and yes the women were doing that work. But by gosh, there was meat to grill and we men were going to make sure that it was done, either by action or observation.

You know, someone had to step into the breach in case something happened. Besides, that’s where it made sense to drink the cold beer, out in the hot sun. Dehydration? Feh.

There was a quite scrumptious beef teriyaki that was being grilled along with the burgers and the dogs, and it smelled divine on the grill.

Food was consumed, and kids were still romping outside, so we had to corral them all for the big event.

The cake. Yum!

Oh, and the card.

Now, my Dad is an old Navy man (WW II) and not much really fazes him. But when they brought out that card I think he was taken aback.

Every one of the kids signed it in their writing, except Kristin. Liz signed it for her, but all of the other kids contributed their signature to it.

It was a really nice gesture, and it meant a lot. I could tell. Mom really liked it too when she saw it. (She didn’t go up there, because of the heat.)

So after that, all of the kidlets were winding down (thankfully) and we needed to hit the dusty trail back home. There were naps taken and quiet time had, and a grocery run for supplies to the race. But it was all worth it, because I know Dad had a great time up there.

Dad’s had a lot of birthdays, but I know he’ll always remember this one. I know I won’t forget it.


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