80th Birthday Bundle

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. August 2019

A huge bundle of birthday gifts and surprises arrived for me for my 80th birthday. It also included offerings for my hubby Chris’ 87th birthday too!

I had the table set. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, and syrup were just about finished when DING. DING. DING. DING!! Our son CW, his wife Teresa, and our granddaughters, Sarah and Emily, flew into my opened arms when I swung the door opened. After two years, the girls had grown almost as tall as me. They drove straight here from SeaTac Airport after traveling all night.

I ran to the stove about 20 feet from the door, “Oh, the last pancakes are ready. Wash your hands.”

After cozily gathering around our small table (expanded with our card table), we bowed our heads as CW voluntarily offered up a prayer.

“Granny it’s so hot and humid in Austin. We’ll get used to this nice cool air, but this hot chocolate is just perfect.” Emily sipped slowly.

Sarah asked, “Last time we were here, you had just moved into this neat place in the Quinault. I forgot how updated the fixtures are and all the storage for such a small place. I like how the cabinets and drawers close automatically after a little nudge.”

We chatted about school, camp, and their exciting attendance at Steubenville Catholic Youth Conference. After breakfast, exhaustion set in. The parents’ eyelids drooped, despite the noticeable efforts to keep it secret. Hearing I had prepared our bedroom for a nap, they needed no mother-hen wings to push them down the hallway.

We matched the teens’ adrenalin-high and looked forward to Granny-Pawpaw bonding for a couple of hours. The girls were not little ones anymore. They were attentive, caring, helpful and considerate of my needing a walker on this visit. After two years, they had overcome shyness, as they were friendly and personable to the elder residents, smiling, asking, and answering questions.

Another present in our bundle of birthday blessings: our daughter Melody, her husband John and their daughter Hope, who live in Lacey, all enjoyed our Aquatic & Fitness Center’s large pool, warm pool, and the spa several of the 10 days they were here. What a perk to have built-in, indoor pool entertainment that is refreshing, beneficial, and fun with all the extras: fins, sponge balls, rods, spin machine to dry swim suits, and dressing rooms for men, women and family.

One of my most memorable and highlighted gifts was on Monday when my little Shaw family attended our Panorama Chapel for Mass with pastor Fr. Tim from Sacred Heart Church. Afterward, we had a delightful walk through our McGandy Park, recalling hide and seek behind the large trunks of the tall trees when they were younger. We packed a picnic in baskets and strolled over to the Panorama Auditorium porch where lovely tables with umbrellas kept us shaded. The cool breezes inhaled smells of our juicy ham, lettuce, bacon, cheese sandwiches, bugle chips, cookies, and watermelon.

They tried out the new electronic piano in the Assisted Living dining room where I entertain during lunch on Mondays. We peeked into Panorama’s closed-circuit TV studio that films “Meet Your Neighbor” interviews, announcements, residents’ picture stories, and loads of other interesting things for our closed-circuit Channel 370. Most of the main events on our campus that are held in our large Panorama Auditorium Theater, the Quinault Auditorium and McGandy Park are filmed for future showing on our television channel. Run by volunteer residents who have learned a new skill, it’s under the daily supervision of a professional.

The men in the Wood Shop had kept in touch with our son CW by phone, photos and emails for two years. So he spent a couple hours on two different days with them, exchanging knowledge and skills, especially on the CNC machine. “How old are you, Chris?” they asked.

“Oh, I’m only 47, so it’s going to be a while yet before I can be a Panorama resident. I can’t believe all the activities and opportunities Mom and Dad have here. I hear even some staff members are on the wait list.”

Our package of birthday gifts included being able to share our annual Panorama Patio Sale, an event our Texan family had only heard us try to explain. They stood in amazement and wonder. “The organization is mesmerizing. How long did it take to set all of this up? Where do we begin to shop? What happens if it rains? Oh, my! I’ve always wanted this kind of waffle iron. Whoa, Granny, didn’t your grandmother have one of these nutcrackers? Good thing we flew here, otherwise, we would have stuffed our car with so many of these treasures. The prices are sooo reasonable. We don’t even have to look at the price tags.”

I remarked that the proceeds of the event come back to us residents. The remarks went on and on.

I was busy finding items I “needed” at the sale, when over the crowd I heard, “Granny, hurry, it’s almost one o’clock and we’re supposed to meet in the Seventeen51 Restaurant at one. Pawpaw just called. He’s already there and he’s waiting for us.”

“Oh, okay, I’ll hurry and pay for my things!”

Chris is there already?!? He’s late for EVERYTHING!!!

CW walked from the Patio Sale with me and my walker. He carried my treasures the short distance to the restaurant, but the rest of the family hurried ahead.

When we entered the Gallery room at the restaurant, my eyes bulged, my jaw dropped, and my palms hit my cheeks.

SURPRISE, GRANNY! HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY!”

Sitting around 4 tables formed into one, Melody’s family had decorated with balloons and curled shiny streamers. Emily and Hope each held a 4-foot, shiny, gold, inflated balloon: one was shaped as the number “8” and the other as the number “0”. Appetizers, entrees, desserts…all gourmet from our Panorama kitchen! What convenience it was! No calling to restaurants to reserve a room, no time limitation to sit and visit, waiters and waitresses with familiar TLC smiles. Familiar residents were in the room looking on, sharing in the fun, taking pictures and videos to send later, and chiming in the singing for me.

Other items at the bottom of that bundled box of birthday-package-stuffers included:

  • Seeing the film/photos of Granny Jo (me) winning the July 4th pie eating contest in our park.
  • Visiting in Panorama Hall and Quinault Coffee Room with complementary coffee, hot chocolate, and even some cookies at times. Where else but Panorama!

At one point, Sarah’s jesting eyes danced, “Granny, are you still happy about your move to Panorama and to the Quinault?”

Ha! What do you think?

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