It was Gary’s 70th birthday Sunday, yesterday (it was also Lily Tomlin’s 80th and John at the Post Office had one and Barry Gibb became 72 and the guy at the market in Lincoln City turned 29). We drove down the coast in the morning, stopped at a farmers’ market, took our time. We didn’t have all that far to go.
We have been to the Sylvia Beach Hotel a half dozen times, staying in different rooms and enjoying the peace. We bring books or read what is lying about in this literary inn. I bring knitting. We walk on the beach and sit watching the ocean from the topfloor “Library.” Gary gets into the guests’ kitchenette before dawn and makes a pot of extra strong coffee. Not quite routine, relaxing.
We had made our reservation for the Emily Dickinson room and planned to have a meal across the street. No internet, no television, the Sylvia Beach is a peaceful Victorian on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Across the street is a great restaurant. Gary is particularly fond of the chef’s wife and had a photo of the car her dad drove in Australia. That was the surprise he planned. He had no idea people were coming until we came out of his favorite hotel to go toward his very favorite restaurant Ove Northwest. There was a friend in the doorway across the street. What is Rick doing in Newport?
We celebrated with our sons and their families and some friends. It is amazing that I managed to keep the secret for six months.
Gary’d never had a surprise party. He was stunned. He kept saying, How did you do this? In fact, I’m not sure Gary had ever had a proper birthday party before this one. He never had a proper party as a child. He claims I threw him a party forty years or so ago when we were in college, but I don’t remember.
Gary is a self-effacing person, patient and kind under most all circumstances. He doesn’t ask for much or complain often. He loves cards and phone calls on his day. He smiles all the time but almost never for the camera. He was mugging for me this morning on our walk.
We’ll call this his first party. The very best. He could barely function when he began to understand what was happening. He just sat and looked stunned for at least an hour and Margaret kept his beer glass full. He was so surprised.
He says: Thank you. I love you.
[Gary has read this now and complains that I have failed to detail my craftiness. Okay, I was pretty crafty. I am so very grateful for the people who were able to attend or who called or sent cards. He deserved this.]