90 Years Young

Y’all know how much I like to party.

Earlier this year, my mom had the brilliant idea to throw her dad (my grandfather) a surprise 90th birthday party. It had all the feels. He knew a few family members were coming, but he had no idea nearly 100 people would show up and help him properly celebrate nine decades of loving and living. Here are all his kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and the spouses.


It’s no joke when I tell you that he’s in better shape than I am. It’s true. About a year ago, he broke his knee, too. What would surely sideline someone his age only slowed him down a bit. I suppose when you fly 56 missions as a tailgunner in WWII and live to tell about it, you’ve got some fight in you.

There were family photos. Great Papa and all eight of his greats!


And, the fab four grandchildren. That’s my younger brother on the left (how did he get taller than me?) and my cousins on the end.



When guests arrived, somehow Scott and the boys got recruited to park cars. That’s a whole other story! But, John Paul did something so incredibly kind, I must share it. He made a birthday card for my grandfather and then insisted we get everyone’s signature. He stood at that door, greeting every guest, for nearly an hour and handed them a pen to sign the card. My grandfather says it was a treasure. I agree.


There was cake (of course) and great food. Awesome conversations and lots of laughing. My cousin, Darin, and I go way back. I love him dearly and this is one of my favorite captures of the day!




Gigi was a trooper. She wore that poncho like a boss and managed to stay mostly happy until the very end. I considered that quite remarkable considering we spent nearly 20 hours in the car in less than 72 hours. Dang, Texas, you are a big state.

Anna-Laura was quite proud to show off that WWII photo of my grandfather to all the guests.


Clare, Luke, John Paul and cousin Jack were just happy to eat cake.Dodson_111415_078



One of the highlights of the evening was the video my brother filmed and edited. My grandfather visited him in Alabama this summer and Daniel set up a mock studio, asking him questions about his childhood, wartime, life lessons and love. It was so beautifully done. No doubt, it became an instant family heirloom. D, for all the hours you put into making that video, thank you.



As much as I lobbied for 90 candles, the rest of the gang thought 9 was enough to handle. Papa, you’re lucky! Isn’t this a great capture?


I have so many memories of my grandfather, growing up. Back in the day, he used to smoke a pipe. He had a little “seat” for it on the dashboard. I still love the smell of that tobacco. Years ago, he gave up the habit, but some of my favorite photos are of him sitting in the chair, with his ostrich boots, holding his pipe. Oh, the stories he used to tell me on those car rides. He knows a little bit about everything.

He’s a master woodworker.

A killer yo-yo’er.

A deeply insightful, no-nonsense man.

A beloved uncle, dad, grandfather, husband, great-grandfather and friend.

Celebrating 90 years with him was an honor. Papa, you’re pretty loved.


All photos courtesy of one of my dearest friends from high school, Bethany Fields. Amarillo people, give her a shout!


  1. Nicole on December 22, 2015 at 8:26 am

    We just celebrated my grandmother’s 90th birthday, too, and it was so great to see her bask in all the love and support around her. Your family really knows how to throw parties. Well done, and those pictures you have are absolutely priceless!

  2. Verdina on December 22, 2015 at 10:16 am

    So beautiful! He is one blessed man; and the family is so blessed, too!

    God bless!

  3. Meggan on December 24, 2015 at 8:26 am

    My grandfather used to smoke a pipe, too, and like you I still love the smell of pipe tobacco because of the memories it brings.

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