So, none of the shenanigans of the last two weeks would have gone down if it wasn’t for a very special lady turning 80 this year. Marchetta Harrington Burlingham (AKA Gigi) is the one who put together this big party and for good reason! I think it is such a beautiful thing to celebrate life and at my age, I tend to usually celebrate birthdays in a more cavalier and selfish way instead of taking that time to look back on accomplishments and experience with the people you love. I don’t think its ever a waste of time to do so.
Before we were on the cruise, we (and when I say we, I mean my mom) planned a night to really honor her because, after all, she’s why we were there! On one of the first nights, unbeknownst to Gigi, the crew was going to deliver her a cake and sing her happy birthday at the end of dinner (very Red Robin-esque). All dinner the whole family knew it was coming but Gigi had no idea. I mentioned yesterday that we ate a lot of food. This statement definitely did not exclude dinners. Every night they fed us great 5 or 6 course meals that lasted quite a while. Well when the main courses were all cleared and the dessert was waiting to be served, we all waited on the edge of our seats to see her reaction to the surprise. Within minutes, we heard music playing and we saw the crew come out with a huge cake, they walked down the aisle….closer, closer, closer, and pass. They walked right past our table and gave the cake to a couple celebrating their anniversary. A couple minutes later, we heard the music and saw the cake again. Closer, closer, closer….and pass. Apparently we weren’t the only ones with the cake idea because about 5 people were celebrating life that night too. Finally she did get delivered her cake and despite the major spoiler alerts before it, Gigi acted completely surprised. Her reaction was so great– I got so many pictures but I think this is my favorite. (I also love Robert in this picture. Doesn’t he have such a joyful smile?)
Along with planning the cake at dinner, mom also reserved a room on the boat for our family to go and eat the cake all together and give us a chance to affirm her with a mini birthday celebration.
For the record, I hate affirmations because whether I’m giving or receiving, I cry every time. Of course I love the though behind them and what people actually say is always very touching and thoughtful but the idea of having to either sit with lots of people and hear/tell someone how amazing I/they are just makes me really nervous. I usually go at the beginning just to get it over with and even though I had planned out what I wanted to say to the T, of course I totally cried when it was my turn. Either way, it was so great for me to be able share and I know Gigi was very honored by it.
My favorite moment by far of the affirmations, and quite possibly the whole trip, was when my grandpa affirmed her. They have been married for over 55 years and are the most adorable and in love couple I have ever met. Their respect and love for each other is so genuine and I love to watch them interact. He even got a little teary when he was looking at her it was such a great moment that I will never forget. I hope when I look back on my life I am able to say that I had a man that loved me as much as he loves her and marriage as beautiful as the one they’ve shared.
For about another hour we ate cake and all talked while watching the most beautiful sunset of the whole trip until Gigi and Grandpa said they were going to hit the hay and kind of drew a close to the party.
Gigi was a little sick for most of the trip, which was such a bummer, but I hope she had a great time and felt loved by all who were on the cruise who were there to celebrate her. It was an amazing week that I will never forget and wouldn’t have happened without her and I am so grateful for who she is and her role in my life. Love you, GIGI!!!!!!