Going Home for a Birthday Celebration

by Lana Stuart on April 18, 2012 · 8 comments

South Georgia road

Last Sunday was a very special occasion for our family. My mother’s mother, my grandmother Polly, celebrated her 97th birthday. And we went home for the weekend.

BeeBop and I have been living in north Georgia for quite a few years now and it’s a lovely place. We are fortunate to live in a beautiful neighborhood with friendly, welcoming folks. But, as the saying goes…there’s no place like home.

All around our home in north Georgia, there are rolling hills, mountains even, but in south Georgia it’s all flat. Flat as a pancake kind of flat. The kind of flat where you can see cars approaching from two or three miles away. And I love it.

Georgia road

It’s the kind of place where commerce looks like this…

Irrigation system

And this…

Field ready to plant

I took those photos through the car window, and I can make no apologies for the bug splats. That’s also part of life in the country.

This is a place where life moves slowly and neighbors still take the time to visit.

Camellia at mama's house

Where the camellias grow as big as trees. And where homes look like this…

Mama's House

That’s my mother’s house. I can’t remember the year it was built now, but it dates from the 1800’s and it sits just off the town square.

This tiny town in this little farming community is where the heart and soul of our family exists.  Our family may all be scattered now, but this place holds a special spot in all our hearts and coming back for Polly’s special day was our great joy and pleasure.

From my perspective, it always seemed to me that Polly has lived her life exactly however she pleased. She is the oldest of seven children (six of whom are still living). She’s an avid reader, staying current on local and national events. She’s always been an independent woman who loved to travel and had some delightful adventures traveling all over the country with a close-knit group of ladies that included her sister-in-law and several friends. When I was growing up, Polly and “Gran Robert” lived in Atlanta – the ultimate in glamorous, big-city living to my little country girl experience. I wrote more about Polly last December when I posted a recipe for her famous “Pink Stuff.” Go on over there and read it!

Polly - opening gifts

I should tell you that this photo and the next one with the birthday cake were taken by my grandson "A." He's 11 and has been showing an interest in photography, so I let him walk around with my camera during the birthday party. I think he's on his way to being a good photographer!

As we drove toward home with our two precious grandchildren in the car with us, I found myself thinking about all the things that Polly has seen and experienced during her lifetime. In the year she was born, 1915, the no. 1 bestseller was The Turmoil by Booth Tarkington, Rocky Mountain National Park was established by Congress, Pluto was photographed for the first time, and the neon tube was patented for use in advertising. That same year, the Nobel prize for physics went to William H. Bragg for his work on x-rays.

During her first 15 years, World War I was fought, the first self-service grocery store opened in the U.S., and the Spanish Flu pandemic took place. Russian Czar Nicholas II and his family, including the famous Anastasia, were killed, the first commercial radio broadcast aired, and the lie detector was invented.

The Charleston became a popular dance (yes, I’ve seen Polly do the Charleston), and women got the right to vote. The Teapot Dome scandal occurred, talking movies were invented and the first winter Olympic games were held. A woman swam the English Channel for the first time ever and the Scopes Monkey Trial took place. Bubble gum was invented, the first Oxford-English Dictionary was published, sliced bread was invented, and penicillin discovered.

Can you imagine witnessing all those events just in your first fifteen years? What a childhood she had!

Lighting the birthday cake

But – back to the birthday celebration! Mama had almost everything ready for Polly’s birthday even before we arrived. She’s always enjoyed having family dinners, so entertaining 14 for lunch was routine for her. Actually, I wish she’d slow down a little and let someone else take over the hosting duties sometimes, but I think she takes a lot of pleasure in having a house full of family.

We all enjoyed a beautiful lunch of baked ham, fresh green beans, squash casserole, broccoli salad, and…gosh I can’t begin to remember it all! And, of course, birthday cake and ice cream. A black forest cake to be exact – Polly’s specific request.

At the end of the day there were hugs and kisses all around, promises of getting together again real soon, and lots of “Y’all drive carefully now!”

I’d say it was a pretty darned good weekend!

Happy 97th Polly! Here’s wishing you 97 more!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rosie April 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Lana, dear – Your narrative brought tears to my eyes…remebering wonderful times thru the years with your family. To add a little spice to your story…Polly was teaching India (your Mother) & me to do the Charleston when we about 15 years old – & lo and behold – she fell and broke a bone (in an unmentionable place). Were we in hot water!!!! XOXO Rosie

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2 Lana April 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Rosie – I never knew about the Charleston incident! That’s so funny and I can just imagine the looks on your faces :-) Thanks for the chuckle.

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3 Miss P April 18, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Also at the celebration were her brother and one sister (plus all of our generation (the grandchildren), the great-grandchildren and the great-great-grandchildren). Polly’s three other sisters are a bit too scattered to come for a luncheon. Our whole clan is a close knit band. Oh, yes, we sometimes fume and fuss a bit, but at the heart of everything, we are fiercely loyal to one another.

Polly truly loves a party. She was the queen of the ball. And, at 97, she’s earned it.

Miss P

ps – she tried to teach me how to Charleston, a generation later. I hate to report that I was not a good pupil. Now, learning her fruitcake recipe, that’s another story…..

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4 Lana April 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Yes, it was definitely a special day and very unusual for all of us to be there at the same time any more.

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5 Drick April 19, 2012 at 1:39 pm

what a nice read Lana, and what a blessing to be a part of such a wonderful family – you are so fortunate to enjoy these times with Polly, and your mother too… and I know you savor the moments spent with each – what I would give to be able to have lunch with my kin one more time… this made my day spending a little time with you and yours…

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6 Lana April 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Thanks for such a sweet comment, Drick! Yes, we are very, very fortunate that so many of our family have enjoyed long, healthy lives. It’s not every young person who gets to know and spend time with their grandmother’s grandmother like my grandchildren are doing. Truly special indeed.

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7 Barbara | Creative Culinary April 21, 2012 at 3:33 pm

What a sweet story and family memory for you to share with us Lana. I don’t have those family connections and I both miss them and long for them and so I do love seeing how it should be; all of you together, so many generations under one roof…it’s very special. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

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8 Lana April 21, 2012 at 9:40 pm

It is such a pleasure for me to share my family stories with my readers, Barb. I wish everyone had a family as special as mine.

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