I try to imagine what I would like to do on my 80th birthday party, if I should even live that long. And I have concluded that I would be happy if I could have a party like my mother-in-law recently had.
You see, the lady loves to dance.
As she approached 80, she still went ballroom dancing many evenings during the week. So when her children asked her where she wanted to celebrate her 80th birthday, she immediately told us — the Savannah Moon, the same ballroom where we celebrated her 75th birthday. For an avid dancer and active person, it had to be so. The only difference five years later was that guests were asked to dress in ruby red — the official color for 80th anniversary celebrations. And so we planned for, and held, a birthday party — a party long on food, short on speeches and full of dancing.
If dancing is the secret to a long and healthy life, then perhaps we should all learn to dance many nights away. I remember that at our son’s wedding reception last year, guests marveled as she led the dance floor in a line dance set to a fast-tempo Latin beat. People much younger could barely keep up with her. It was one of the highlights of that evening. In return, for her birthday party, my son serenaded her with a classic Filipino ballad.
We were only too happy to indulge her love of dancing and life in general. I, in particular, was happy to join her celebration. As my mother-in-law and as my surrogate mother after my own mother died at an early age, she had shown me many acts of kindness. I was equally glad that our children and our daughter-in-law were able to join us on this trip to the Philippines. We all learned from her the way to a long and happy life, surrounded by family and friends all dancing to her beat.