>A Day to Remember

>October 6 will always be a day to remember. Starting back in 1948, when my husband was born on this day. Yes—we’re celebrating his 60th birthday today. Well, the celebration really started yesterday at St. John Orthodox Church, where he serves as Assistant Pastor. First of all, it was wonderful that he felt like going to Liturgy, just four days after his surgery. Downstairs in the parish hall, as coffee hour was beginning, Father John Troy, our pastor, called him over and said some nice things about him, thanking God that he’s healing from the surgery, but also for their friendship of 40 years. Check out this photo of them back in 1969! Then we all sang the traditional Orthodox blessing, “God Grant You Many Years.” (To hear this being sung at another Orthodox parish on a You Tube video, click here.)

When we got home, Reem showed up with our Goddaughter, Sophie, who brought Father this cool 2 liter Eco Logic hydration pack for jogging… you fill it with water and drink through tubes connected to the backpack to stay hydrated. Great idea! Thanks, Sophie!

A little while later our Godson, Damon and his wife, Weezie came by (they’ve been living in London for a year, where Damon has been doing master level work post-law school) and brought Father Basil a nice bottle of wine for his birthday. Damon’s mother, Madeleine, was with them, so we took a few minutes to celebrate her birthday, which was yesterday (October 5). I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures…. But here are Damon and Weezie at their wedding in 2006. And here’s Madeleine, working on an icon at one of my icon workshops back in 2006. Happy Birthday, Madeleine! Thanks for coming over to celebrate with us!

Later we got together with yet another of my husband’s first cousins, this time on his father’s side—Fred Wright and his friend, Karen, both from California. They’re on a cross country road trip, visiting relatives and seeing the sights. Last night we went to Encore, in Peabody Place, for dinner. It was our first time there and wow! What a great place! Master Chef Jose Gutierrez even prepared my hubby’s entrée specifically to fit his post-op limitations, and everything was delicious…fish, chicken, duck, crabcakes, homemade mushroom ravioli…yum! Thanks to Fred for treating us for my hubby’s 60th birthday!

Fred’s mother and my husband’s father were brothers and sisters. They were around each other a good bit growing up, and it was fun listening to them retrace a few branches of the family tree. Fred spent years in aeronautic engineering, but recently he’s been exploring writing, so we had a great time telling craft stories. He’s taken some screenplay classes out in California, where he lives. But I think he’s got a great idea for a novel, so it was fun exploring that together. Karen was a professional photographer for twenty five years. This was the first time we’d seen Fred and Karen since the Cushman family reunion/cruise to Alaska back in 2005. There were over 70 folks at that reunion, which was a seven-day cruise to several ports of Alaska, out of Seattle. Amazing trip… but also a fascinating study in family dynamics. I don’t think I’ve ever been around so many smart, energetic, creative people at one time! Watching my husband interact with all those cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, it was obvious that they were his people.

So today as we celebrate his 60th birthday, we also commemorate a sad loss. Our dear friend, Urania Alissandratos, died one year ago today. You can read my posts about those beautiful but difficult last days with her in October of 2007 here and here . I’m sorry we won’t be in Memphis this coming Sunday when her daughters come from New York City and her sons from Nashville and Memphis will also be at St. John for the memorial prayers and (Greek) dinner which they are serving afterwards. We’re heading to Seagrove Beach, Florida tomorrow, so watch for posts from the beach later this week. But we’ll be thinking of Urania and singing “Memory Eternal” in our hearts.

Oh, one closing note. For those who listenend to River Jordan’s radio show, “Backstory,” from 4-6 pm on Saturday, waiting for her to read an excerpt from one of my essays, here’s what happened. River emailed me part-way through the show to apologize… she forgot that she was doing a recast that day, so she’ll read from the essay this coming Saturday… or the next. Thing is, it’s a great show, so I hope everyone will enjoy tuning in for it from time to time. Her interview this past Saturday with Mark Childress, who wrote One Mississippi, was excellent, and the music was diverse and fun. Thanks to my friend, Herman, for introducing me to River and her show.

That’s all for now… gotta’ run errands and pack for the beach today. Next time you hear from me, I’ll probably be posting from Amavida Coffee Shop in Seagrove Beach, Florida. Ahhhh… I can smell the coffee now…. and the ocean …

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