Tonight was a night of learning. I’m at my grandparents in Florida right now and am having such a great time. I was informed earlier about tonight that I was invited to a surprise 50th anniversary party for my grandparents. So getting into the car to a dinner that my grandparents thought they were going to with a few friends turned into a massive party. We walked into the restaurant to 73 people (90% of them being over triple my age I’m sure) screaming SURPRISE!!! Of course my grandma’s tears started flowing and my grandpa’s smile got larger while his white real teeth shine with all the flash photography. I much confess, this was quite an ordeal to walk into.
It was set up like a wedding. There was a head table that I sat at with Rachel and my grandparents were there and the three ladies with their husbands that put this whole thing on, oh and I can’t forget the 93 year old Aunt Dorothy who sat enjoying her wine at the end of the table. The other sixty or so people were lined up in rows in this nice restaurant. There was a cake, and glasses for my grandma to take home and flowers and cards and all kinds of things.
I enjoyed myself tonight so much for a number of reasons. The three ladies that put this event on were the most enjoyable and fun ladies ever. They were hyper and having such a blast the whole night telling my Grandma how they put this party on and all the stories that came along with it. Everything from ducking in the cars while driving by her house, to flipped cakes to something as simple as making sure her grandchild (me) was there. They reminded me of an older version of Rachel’s roommates for some reason, I never thought I would see that much fun and life in people who were my grandparents age, but sure enough, there they were showing me how to have a good time.
There are a few things that you have to know about my grandparents. For starters, my grandpa loves to race pigeons. Being from Sarnia, there wasn’t a lot of people that raced pigeons but there were a small group of them that got together to race every once in a while. Joe always thought it was the coolest yet oddest thing that people would race pigeons. Coming to Florida where my grandparents live it is the complete opposite. My grandparents live in a pigeon racing community. I believe over 80% of the people that live here in Spring Hills race pigeons (sometimes with prizes up to 250, 000). Everyone that was at this surprise anniversary party belonged to pigeon clubs. They all raced pigeons.
My grandparents have only been there 5 years, but you can tell that everyone adores them. I was asked by one man if I was Rick’s grandson to which I responded of course and he then started telling me about how amazing Rick was and that he was the best man in the entire world. I read a letter from my mom in front of everyone and when my mom mentioned how hospitable they were and how they were always having guests over, all seventy people laughed in agreement and knew that they were celebrating two people who had opened up their lives to everyone around them.
This community of pigeon racers absolutely blew my mind tonight. My grandparents were there for five years and were completely engrossed in this tightly built community. They all knew each other and enjoyed each other’s company over prime rib and chicken and some fish. They laughed, they cried they were all smiling and celebrating the accomplishment of my grandparents 50th year of being married. I have never met such a friendly bunch of old people in my life. They were more welcoming and more fun than I could expect to find in most other places.
My favourite part of the whole night was when one man named George told us that every time he goes out with my grandma he hides a utensil in her purse from the restaurant. She always finds it when she gets home and then she puts it with all the other ones. This time, he took 23 (we counted) knives and forks and the sort and shoved them in a basket under her cards that she ‘stole’ from the restaurant. The whole table was cracking up because my grandma had no idea.
There was even one lady who heard what was going on and came across the restaurant to meet some people at our table and within seconds I swear she was part of the group. She was laughing and offering cake. It amazed me again that someone with no connection could find themselves so comfortable in the midst of a seventy person gathering that had nothing to do with them. After the party the three ladies who planned it ran around offering extra cake to everyone in the restaurant, laughing and having a blast along the way.
Rachel just kept looking at me and said I love these guys, can we be like them when we are older? I think she has a point. I want to be surrounded by the kind of people that my grandparents are surrounded by all the time. I want to be like my grandparents in so many ways. I want my house to be open to whoever needs it or whoever wants to visit. I want people to think of me as the greatest guy ever. I want people to tell my grandson that they are lucky to have a grandpa like me. I want to be as much in love with my wife at 50 years that I was at one year. I want to smile from ear to ear when my wife of fifty years is welling up with tears because I love her so much and never would I trade a minute of those fifty years for anything.
My grandparents are two people that are worthy for me to model my life after. Hopefully I can even become half the people they are, but until then I will appreciate them and learn from them every step of the way or maybe all it will take is a pigeon shed in my backyard. I hope that theStory will be this kind of church, a church with people like my grandparents in it and a community like these pigeon racers have formed.