I'm celebrating one of those landmark birthdays this weekend - you know, the kind you hope no one will notice and will go quietly by. Of course, at Chets Creek nothing goes quietly by. My life is quite the open book and they never do anything in a small way at the Creek, so.... I was greeted to a Surprise! Birthday Party first thing Friday morning. With the entire faculty dressed in red and green with crowns upon their heads to go with the theme "From Apple Queen to Apple Bottom Jeans" (it's a long story!), I entered the red paper covered walkway of the Media Center (passing a mouth watering array of apple themed breakfast foods)! Melanie Holtsman, friend extraordinaire, had put together a video of my life including my childhood, pictures of me as the Westminster, SC "Apple Queen," pictures from my double wedding with my sister, pictures of me with my husband of 38 years, pics of me as a new mom and from my teaching years, me with the granddaughter, interspersed with videos of the faculty pretending to be yours truly displaying some of my most (in)famous character traits (such as talking people into doing things that they never intended to do, my inability to work anything in technology including a DVD player - oops, they told me it was a CD player! and my obsession recently with adding things to our wiki, wiki, wiki!) The video ended with our Leadership Team dressed in gangster garb dancing (sort of!) to Apple Bottom Jeans - a song they have been trying to teach me for a year because they think my sixties beach music is a little outdated! I laughed until I cried. Each grade level even brought Diet Cokes as a gift since I pay $.75 several times a day to the Coke machine because I think a pack of cans is just too heavy to bring into the building (sad, I know!) with my arms full of other stuff.
Just as soon as I thought my heart could absolutely take no more, my husband - who has never kept a secret in his entire life - pulled off a surprise party on Saturday night with my favorite people in the world. I am so NOT the surprise type or much of a party girl, for that matter, but I have been so touched all weekend by the people in my life. I have realized that, outside of my family, all of my deep, emotional ties are with people I have worked with - many go back 20 years. How fortunate I am to have worked all these years in schools that have allowed me to really LOVE going to school every day. There is no doubt that the children and families I have taught along the way have touched the very depths of my soul, but it is the relationships that I have had with my colleagues that bring me to my knees in thanksgiving. I have taught alongside people that I learn from every day - that make me laugh, that keep me humble, and that are willing to share in my pain as easily as they share in my joy. Can anyone wish for a richer life than this?
Thanks to the cast of incredible, colorful characters who have reminded me all weekend of just how lucky I am! My cup truly runneth over. I don't know what the next 60 years will bring, but the first 60 have been everything that dreams are made of... and more.