Seventy! Seventy years old. The words kept echoing in his mind. He thought a seventieth birthday would-should– be more remarkable than this day seemed to be. His wife had carried a tray in to him this morning with fragrant, steaming coffee and his favorite blueberry muffins, but she did the same often enough on ordinary mornings. She sang “Happy Birthday” in her lilting voice and presented a card with a flourish. It was a nice card, but still, it was only a card. He had received obligatory phone calls from his son and daughter. He heard nothing from his grandchildren. A few cards had arrived in the mail from faraway friends and relatives, but most of his friends were oddly silent about the big day. Well, what could he expect? He had rarely spoken of his secret dream for this day, and then only jokingly.
He swallowed his disappointment and bit back bitter words when his wife went out to the back yard to work in her garden- work in her garden!- leaving him sitting alone on his birthday. A few minutes after she disappeared, the doorbell rang. His heart skipped a beat… maybe… no, just a neighborhood kid with a fundraiser. He slumped back down into his recliner, dozing.
The doorbell rang again. After the earlier letdown, he didn’t hurry this time. He opened the door- and oh, my! His son plopped a crown on his head and draped a royal cape over his shoulders as he led him out to a lawn chair “throne” near the curb. His son appeared to be dressed as a court jester. He took his place in front of a… microphone? “Let the merriment begin!” he shouted into it.
Around the corner marched his grandchildren as a clown band of drum, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, and kazoo. Waving from a convertible behind them was the queen of the parade, his queen- his wife. She hopped (well, gingerly climbed) out and rushed over with a big kiss and hug, her royal robes billowing behind her. More convertibles rolled up and paused as his son, the court jester, interviewed the “celebrities” who came to be part of his birthday parade. President Obama read a birthday proclamation. Marilyn Monroe sang a breathy Happy Birthday. Peyton Manning threw a pass to him. Jugglers juggled. Dancers danced. Bikers rode (motorcycles and bicycles!). Movie stars waved. They were his friends and family, one and all. At the end of the parade, his wife turned to him and whispered, “Are you ready for this?”
Rounding the corner was a Mercedes SL convertible, driven by Glinda the Good Witch (aka his daughter). She opened the door and walked over in front of him. She waved her wand and said “Your birthday wish is granted!”
“Yes, it was a grand parade! Just what I always hoped for on my seventieth,” he replied. He grinned at the queen, who had remembered his wish, after all.
“Not just that,” said Glinda, as she held out the keys to him, “It’s from all of us, Daddy!”
His wife grabbed his hand and said, “Come take me for a spin in your new convertible! Happy Birthday, Honey!” To the crowd she called, “Fire up the barbecue! We’ll be back by the time the burgers are ready!”
He shook his head in disbelief. Seventy! Seventy years old. And what a remarkable birthday it had turned out to be!
A fictionalized account of an actual event a friend was part of in her neighborhood.