My mum’s 90th birthday, and high tea at Maul-Hall

My favorite recent photo of the birthday girl

Remember the days of old;
    consider the generations long past.
Ask your father and he will tell you,
    your elders, and they will explain to you.

Deuteronomy 32:7
with my parents at mum’s 90th

Every once in a while someone will be fortunate enough to have a parent live into their nineties (my dad turned 93 in July). Now, as of this morning, my mum is in her nineties too; that’s 183-plus combined! Not bad going. The downside for them, of course, is that the guy who’s looking after them is solidly AARP too!

Mum wanted her party to be low-key and intimate. So Rebekah and I hosted “High Tea” at Maul-Hall for a few of her friends.

That meant using the fine china; serving hot tea; putting out several varieties of English cookies and shortcake; making homemade scones with butter, clotted cream, and blackberry jam; cooking little quiches in phyllo dough cups; and – my mum’s favorite – a lemon spongecake birthday cake with lemon icing.

And then, many many more cups of hot tea when necessary.

Thankfully Dad (who is struggling right now when it comes to moving around) managed to make it across to our house for the event, and mum’s friends – Millie, Loretta, and Betty – made for delightful company. The party was – in UKspeak -a smashing success.

Mum and Dad with (l-r) Betty, Loretta, and Millie

Connections deep into history:

My question for the table (I always have a question) was this: “Who is/was the oldest relative you remember well, and please share something special about them.”

Everyone had a great story. “I’m looking at mine!” I said, gesturing to dad. But then my mum talked about her two grandfathers and we were transported back into another time.

telling stories around the table

Both mum’s grandfather Kemp and her grandfather Watts were born around the late 1860’s. They worked as laborers on large country estates (think Downton Abbey), living in the same part of Essex (east of London). Both were especially good with horses.

My great-grandfathers Watts and Kemp moved their families to East London before the turn of the century, where they were hired at the same industrial site. They worked with the drays (heavy workhorses) used to haul everything that needed moving. Mum still remembers going to Regents Park with her family, in the 1930’s, to see the annual workhorse parade.

It’s easy to forget that people like my parents represent direct contact with the middle of the 1800’s. Not just WW2, which they lived through themselves, but the 19th-Century world their grandparents were born into.

What kind of story does my life tell?

We don’t just hear stories, and we don’t just tell stories – we LIVE stories. And the story we are living into today is the story our grandchildren – and great-grandchildren – will learn and then share one day at their 90th birthdays.

a huff and a puff!

It turns out that we have a lot to say about what kind of a story our lives tell.

Best of all, we have all been invited into the Greatest Story Ever Told. Not just then, but now; not a distant idea but a present reality; not simply words in a book but heartbeats in a real life; not someone else’s story, but ours.

That has been my mum’s experience for 90 years now. It’s a story that not only has to be told, but lived.

Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:3

– DEREK

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