80 years on Earth, 60 years of marriage. Last month, we had the opportunity to celebrate my grandma’s 80th birthday and my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary with friends and family near and far.
The planning started about a year ago as we wanted this to be the surprise of a lifetime for two incredibly deserving people! We made the guest list, found a venue, booked our favorite photographer, and started mailing invitations. And quicker than you know it, the day was finally here.
My grandparents moved away from their family in Indiana to move to Texas when their children were little. Although they’ve planted their roots here in Texas and created a BIG family of their own, there’s an even bigger family back home that love them pretty fierce. We knew that not all of our family (and friends) would be able to make the trip down, so my sister and I came up with an idea to allow everyone who loved them to be apart of this special day.
We received so many messages, videos, and birthday cards and printed them all in a book to gift them at the party. It was the sweetest thing, and I am so thankful to everyone who participated!
Friday, March 1st, 2019. Initially we wanted to wait until the day of the party for the big surprise, but we had a lot of relatives coming from Indiana, Florida, and Oklahoma, and we wanted to make sure they had as much time as possible together. I invited my grandparents to a lunch date at my grandma’s favorite hibachi restaurant, where little to their knowledge, there were an army of people waiting to greet them. We walked into the restaurant as the big group was standing, serenading my grandma with the “Happy Birthday” song. Although we clued my grandpa in month’s in advance about this lunch surprise, he was still pretty shocked himself! They were both SO happy to see everyone. After everyone got seated, I handed my grandma an envelope with the invitation to her party the next day. We told her that it would just include immediate family and those at lunch that day.
Since I was a little girl, I have had such a close relationship with my grandparents. I remember chatting on the phone with my grandma for several hours every week starting as early as Elementary School. I’d often beg my mom to let me go stay the night with them pretty much every day during the Summer and on weekends during the school year. I’d sit in my grandma’s lap watching Murder She Wrote while eating far too much popcorn, and often convinced them to play just one more card game (cards have always been their thing). I have admired my grandparents’ relationship for as long as I can remember. I specifically remember my grandpa coming into the room on a Wednesday afternoon as I was propped up in my grandma’s lap per the usual, and she asked him, “Can you take my thing to go get my thing?” He quickly obliged without another explanation as to what these ‘things’ were. Well, ladies and gents, what she really meant was, “Can you take my van to get lottery tickets?” They have just always understood each other. That mountain of a man has been the absolute best example of how a husband should treat his wife. I mean, my grandma has still to this day never pumped her own gas! Through all the ups and downs life has offered them: losing my dad (their oldest son), cancer, adopting my little sister and raising her as their own, marriages of their grandchildren, surgeries and sickness, deaths in the family, the births of 15 great-grandchildren, and so much more, they have been at each other’s side. They are a true testament of what a marriage should look like, and I am so incredibly thankful for them and the example they’ve set my entire life.
Saturday, March 2nd, 2019. I couldn’t stop saying, “I can’t believe today is finally here!” I had been waiting with so much excitement for a year to bring this group of people together to celebrate my wonderful grandparents and the beautiful life they have created together. We had about 30 minutes to get the entire room ready before they arrived. We had about 20 people unloading crates of decor, drinks, and gifts. The men were putting together tables and chairs, while the kids helped their mamas put tablecloths and chair covers on. It was a lot of work getting everything together so fast, and I am so grateful to our army for helping pull it off. It was truly a team effort! Everyone stood in a row as my grandparents entered the room, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tear up as they walked in. If I could relive that one moment over and over, I absolutely would.
My grandma kept saying, “yesterday was enough!!” She truly had no idea how many people would be waiting for her at the party. Her youngest brother, Al, drove down from Indiana with the majority of his family, and they were both so shocked to see them!
The hugs were endless! They were greeted first by all of their great-grandchildren who insisted on hugs immediately. Beckham may or may not have become a bit territorial of great-grandma and had to be held as she continued going through the line of friends and family who came to celebrate.
About a year ago, my grandma said that she wanted to celebrate big for her big 8-0 with a pizza party. So we did just that! We ordered pizza from Brooklyn’s Best, and everyone raved about how amazing it was (if you are in the Arlington area, go check them out.. you won’t be disappointed!). We had such a great time catching up with everyone over lunch, and I kept sneaking peaks at my grandparents, who were just smiling from ear to ear the whole time. My little heart was fulfilled 100%.
We had a long list of family photos to take after lunch. We are so thankful for our photographer, especially because I hardly took any photos myself!
The birthday princess and her prince of 60 years
The Rhoades family (we are about 10 family members short of the entire Rhoades gang)
Grands + Great-Grands
The Indiana gang (for some reason, we are missing the two men that came down with this bunch)
Of course, we took the time to have a little photo session of our own.
After family photos, it was time for the happy couple to cut their cake!