Share memories of Mom's 80th birthday party.
I'm the first to post this assignment, although InlandEmpireGirl has posted pictures of the event here and I've posted a couple here. I'll be posting more in the near future.
Everything about Mom's 80th birthday party on the 16th of January was memorable: the flowers, food, successful logistics, guests, laughter, music, the "How Well Do You Know Mary Woolum" quiz, the many lovely sentiments mailed to Mom and posted on Facebook, and even the fact that Silver Valley Girl had a guest smash into her garage door in a mishap that could have been very serious, but turned out to be only moderately damaging.
The party was all about Mom: guests sat and visited with her, everything we did to set it up and pull it off was about Mom's favorite colors, food, dessert, everything was about Mom.
At the same time, even though he's been dead for almost fifteen years, Dad was there and his presence at the party is and will be a strong memory for me.
Dad's ghost appears different places in the form of stories, quips, jokes, and phrases. I sometimes forget that Dad and his friends shared common ways of saying things, laughed about a lot of the same stuff, and had jokes they told over and over again that never grew stale, that made me laugh over and over again and, for better or worse, that shaped my sense of humor.
Donny Rinaldi was Dad's friend his whole life, not only in Kellogg, but in Lewiston as well. Donny and Dad went to college at North Idaho College of Education and it came back to me how they, along with Merv Hill, had a whole battery of ways to talk about stuff that was alive almost everytime Donny piped up at the party.
For example, when InlandEmpireGirl read the "How Well Do You Know Mary Woolum?" quiz, an early question was "Where did Mary and Pert get engaged to be married?" On cue, Donny answered (wrongly), "The Stables." I about died. How many stories did I hear over the years about The Stables, a bar on Highway 12, heading east out of Lewiston. Donny had a gift as a young man: he could open his throat and pour a pitcher of beer down his gullet faster than most beer drinkers could drink a schooner.
I remember all the stories Dad and Merv and Donny told of Dad hustling bets at The Stables. "I'll bet the Wop here can drink a pitcher of beer faster than you can down that glass of beer." The money came out, Donny won, and as Dad said, "We'd go around and collect our winnings while Donny went to the parking lot to puke his guts out."
Donny said, "The Stables" and Dad was at Mom's party.
Another question: "What royal title did Mary Woolum have in her life."
Donny: "Queen of the We Wipe Prairie."
I nearly died.
Mom taught school in Weippe (WEE IPE) right out of college and worked in the general Weippe vicinity for the Forest Service as a teen. When we vacationed in Orofino, occasionally we drove to Weippe and Pierce and Headquarters to take in the scenery and to help Mom remember her good ole days up there, yes, on the Weippe Prairie.
In the approximately forty-three years I knew my father, I never hear him say WEE IPE. It was always We Wipe. Every single time he said We Wipe, I laughed, and laughed hard. If he'd known it, he could have disarmed my occasional anger and moodiness, snapped me out of every bad mood, just by saying We Wipe to me.
So, Donny called Weippe We Wipe.
Dad was at the party.
Dad was at the party thanks to Mac Pooler, too, who told several stories of playing golf with Dad, like the time Ed Werlinger, Woody Day, Dad, and Mac went on the road to play the Sandpoint club in a match at Sandpoint. Mac said, "I thought I knew how to drink. Jesus. I found out different with that crew." I could hear Dad tell the same story.
He was back.
He was back laughing at the time he and Mac got drunk at the golf course and Mac brought Dad home and pushed him out of the car, propped him up against the tree in the front yard, golf clubs strewn about, and drove off, defenseless when Mom came out the front door to find him and pour him into the house.
Dad came to the party right then and looked Mac in the eye, "You asshole."
It was Mom's party. I'll never forget that and all the pictures will remind me how much she loved seeing everyone and how touched she was by everyone's love and by Silver Valley Girl's family's singing.
But ghosts aren't photogenic. None of us could get a picture of Dad.
But he kept popping in, coming alive again, and I'll always want to remember his presence.