Let the Good Times Roll


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Let’s face it: the good times can be fewer and further between as our loved ones grow older. Life isn’t always a party after friends and spouses pass away. Simply getting from point A to B can be a challenge. It has come to that for Dad.

That’s why I want to make the most of June. Dad turns 92 this month with Father’s Day soon after. And if there ever was a guy who loved a good time, it’s Dad.

He lived for his annual high school reunions, even if it wasn’t his honor year. He knew he’d see people returning for the big celebration, and he couldn’t wait. He loved lively parties and small get-togethers. Fishing trips and the Puerto Rico vacation were all memorable for Mom and him. He made the morning coffee klatches at the local cafe a priority.

Dad was the life of the party at my wedding, and I have pictures to prove it. He gravitated to people wherever and whenever he could. Dad made friends and cultivated relationships with ease.

Dad at my wedding.

Birthdays were extra special. My parents were part of a group of friends they called the birthday club. Four couples, several of whom had grown up together, scheduled a special night for each one’s birthday.  They went out to dinner, then to one of their homes for dessert and cards into the wee hours of the morning.

One June, years ago when I was a kid, Mom thought she’d try something new and surprise Dad for his birthday. She sneaked the birthday club into their small bedroom and crammed them in behind the bedroom door. There’s one thing she forgot, though. The first thing Dad did when he came home was strip off his work clothes. The birthday club jumped out from behind the door and came face-to-face with Dad wearing only his skivvies. The club got a bigger surprise than Dad. And that was the last surprise party.

There have been a lot of great birthdays since then, including my father’s 90th, organized by my brother and sister-in-law. The open house drew more than 100 people. He wasn’t quite the party animal of years past, but the birthday bash brought out that familiar twinkle in his eyes.

Trying to figure out how to keep the party going for a social guy like my dad is a challenge. We’re not sure exactly what to plan for his birthday this June. How do you bring the good times to life for older adults who can’t celebrate like they once did? Do you have any ideas for me from your experiences? I could use a few.

Dad’s birthday might end up being low-key this year. His energy level isn’t what it was when he could work a crowd with the skill of a politician. But if I can manage, I’ll try to figure out how to let the good times roll. Anything but jumping out from behind a door, that is.​

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