Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Apolonio Is 96! Todavia Sopla!!

On Sunday, our friend Olga (pictured above) invited us to a 96th birthday party for her dad, Apolonio. He doesn't talk much anymore, but his eyes are bright and his mind alert. He sat on his favorite rocker staring straight ahead, in some world of his own making, seemingly unaware of his family, friends and grandkids that filled the house. He doesn't hear well, so you have to speak loudly and directly to address him. From time to time, he would break out into some song of yesteryear, and though off-key, and without a recognizable melody, he knew all the words to it. We all listened and clapped for him when he ended each song. There was a look of sheer contentment on his face. He knew we were all there for him.

The family had a huge strawberry and banana cake for him and the customary candles, a "9" and a "6", and he was able to blow them out after a couple of failed attempts: "Todavia Soplas! (You can still blow!), somebody chanted and we sang the traditional Mexican birthday song for him: "Las Mananitas" followed the English "Happy Birthday". There was ham, ribs, salad and yams. Afterwards, we began to sing old Mexican songs, with some of the old-timers in the room. One had a rich, powerful voice but insisted on singing the songs in his own private key. I kept herding him towards a key on my guitar that I felt best suited his voice, but it was a struggle. Others insisted on singing off key no matter what I did! Regardless, there were a few songs, which most of the people knew, which we actually sang on key and made it through the entire song. He must have loved it; it was written on his face.
When I was a kid, we were drilled on respecting your elders and I guess I have never lost that. This family is blessed to have their Dad still around and relatively healthy at 96. I myself am pushing 70, and many of my dearest friends and family are gone, especially some of my guitar playing and singing (and beer drinking!) buddies and I miss them. Perhaps that is what makes these old timers, "viejitos" so special to me. Would that we all loved and cherished our old ones so.

1 comment:

#167 Dad said...

Good to read another posting. Sounds like everyone had a great time. You people with talent have to remeber that singing on key isn't as easy for the rest of us.