My Father Had Exciting Plans To Celebrate His 90th!

Deborah Welky


Last week, my father turned 90. Because of a harrowing medical episode recently involving his hip and him landing on the floor, we were all happy to celebrate this event, even though only my brothers were able to attend. My sister made up for it by going up to see him the previous week, and I went up the week before that. So we’ve been celebrating for about a month which, given the momentousness of the occasion, seems fitting.

He will also catch up to my mother in age, which he always likes because she quits calling him “the baby.”

The evening before his actual birthday, my brothers accompanied mom and dad to their favorite restaurant, where he had a 7 and 7, against all doctors’ orders. But once you’ve outlived all of your doctors, nobody is going to tell you what to do, especially not the eve of turning 90.

On the actual day, dad slept in, and then here’s what he wanted to do: order a pizza and play spoons.

I know I’ve spoken about this game before but, just in case I’ve picked up a few new readers in the last five years, here’s a brief outline of spoons:

Everybody sits on the floor in a circle. In the center of the circle is a starburst of table spoons, one less than the number of people playing. Everybody gets some cards; I think it’s six. The dealer then takes the top card from the deck, tries to match it to one of his, then discards one card to the player on his left, who does the same. This continues around the circle at lightning speed. When someone has a match for all their cards, they grab a spoon. Once that first spoon is gone, the gloves are off. Mayhem ensues as people try to grab the remaining spoons. When the dust settles, the person left without a spoon is out. Rounds of play continue until only one player is left — the winner.

It sounds like fun, but in my super-competitive family, people have emerged with cuts, scrapes, bruises and lifelong grudges. Several years ago, my brother thrust his spoon safely (he thought) down the front of his pants, but my mother went in after it. When he cried foul, mom said, “Oh, there’s nothing down there that I haven’t seen before.”

Legal? Of course not.

Fodder for Thanksgiving conversations for years to come? Definitely.

So this year, when my sister called dad on his 90th birthday, and he told her his plans, she screeched, “On the floor? Are you kidding me?!”

“Well, someone may have to help me up after,” dad admitted, maybe forgetting about the hip surgery he had just two months ago.

“I do not want to have to tell people you died playing spoons!” she yelled.

My opinion? What a way to go — literally surrounded by loved ones and with my mother’s hand down his pants!