The weekend of May 24th, my extended family gathered in Calgary from points East and West across Canada to celebrate my Mom’s eightieth birthday. Herewith storytelling and pictures.

My Mom is the youngest of six children of Bob and Clara Scott, both Alberta schoolteachers; she left the profession to be a mother and he went on to become a Provincial Inspector of Schools; there’s still an R.J. Scott School somewhere in Edmonton.

The oldest boy was Allen, who died in the very late stages of World War II; the oldest girl was Beryl, who died a few years ago. Next was Patricia, who’s not in good enough health to have made it to Calgary.

That leaves Don Scott, professor emeritus of Chemical Engineering at the U of Waterloo, Beth White, now resident in Calgary, and my mother.

Jean Bray, Beth White, Don Scott

Jean Bray, Beth White, Don Scott. Combined age 251 years; don’t they look great?

In Bob and Clara’s generation there was a double marriage between two brothers and two sisters, so there are all sorts of double cousins; and then their children were fertile; I have many first cousins and once you get past that the acquaintance gets hazy. My daughter is the youngest of Bob and Clara’s great-grandchildren; there’s a spread of over forty years in that generation. Most of us remain in the western half of Canada, but there has been leakage east and south.

My brother Rob hosted; we had 18 souls there for the actual party-with-cake bit. Rob, with some help from my other brother Don and me and his kids, hustled up enough barbecued kebabs and salad and hummus and tzaziki and corn-on-the-cob and, oh I forget, that nobody went away hungry. Damn tasty if I say so myself.

Below are my brothers Don and Rob. Those who know what I may look like may detect a pattern.

Don Bray
· · ·
Rob Bray

We lacked enough organization and determination to bake a cake, so they were store-bought; but let me say that the Calgary Co-op has the best selection of cakes I’ve ever seen in a life that has taken me to some famous baking spots around the world.

I wanted to put eighty candles on it but they wouldn’t let me; anyhow, there were quite a few, and the rendition of “Happy Birthday” was rousing. Mom, who plays in a woodwind quartet, blew them out with sufficient force that the people downwind had to dodge icing fragments.

There was lots of wine, and after dinner politics broke out. We are a talkative family, an articulate family, a family whose current-events discussions have been known to make those who married into it dive for cover. While the perfidy and general wrongness of Harper’s Tories was generally agreed to, there were other points where consensus was not evident.

We’ve taken a resolution to do this again any time one of Bob and Clara’s kids has a birthday with a “0” in it.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Stuart Marks (Jun 05 2010, at 09:51)

Nice. For my grandfather's 77th birthday a number of years ago (QUITE a number of years ago) we put 77 candles arranged on the cake in the shape of "77". It was quite the bonfire; he wasn't able to blow them out. I think it took all of us. Luckily we didn't need a fire extinguisher. So, it was probably wise not to have 80 candles on the cake.

Happy birthday to your mother!


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