70 Memories and a Surprise for my Dad’s 70th Birthday

post by nat

This past week my dad turned the big 7-0. It’s quite the landmark and he’s heading into quite the year. Retirement is on the horizon, he’ll become a first time grandfather and have to learn what it means to relax a little in life ;) My mom and sister decided to throw him a small surprise party last Sunday. Unfortunately Matt & I knew we wouldn’t be able to make it being a very busy season with photography and so close to our family vacation with them in December to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary (did I mention it’s a big year?!).

A couple of weeks before the party I was thinking about my dad and how we could be a part of his day. I was browsing Pinterest and started looking for a special gift idea. Now I’m not sure if it was actually on Pinterest or one of the rabbit trails I went down along the way, but I came across a blog that gave me this idea…..


I called my mom and sister up right away because we didn’t have much time! I wanted to write/email/call everyone we knew to get 70 different memories of my dad over the years. Matt was immediately overwhelmed with the idea, which is pretty typical when I come up with an idea (it doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s usually something pretty big that also has a pretty tight time crunch!). I think my mom and sister were too, but thought it was a great idea and thankfully had some time to help me track down friends and family.


Over the next two weeks memories poured in! From old friends, new friends and family members from both my mom & dad’s side. They were hilarious, eye opening and so touching to see the different parts of my dad’s life converge into one huge pile of letters, all remembering him for different reasons and in different seasons of his life.


I’m thrilled to say we got over 70 memories from 61 different people!! I packaged them up neatly and sent them away for him to open (or begin to open) at his party.


But here’s the best part for me. It was Saturday at lunch time, Matt & I were eating and getting ready for an engagement session that afternoon. He asked me what I was thinking about and I mentioned that I was kinda bummed that I couldn’t be there the next day for my dad’s birthday party and to see his reaction to all of the memories people sent. Matt being the awesome husband he is immediately responded with, ‘we have some frequent flyer miles, why don’t you go? Just call them up and book something!’. And that’s exactly what I did…..which if you know me is crazy because I like to plan…..and my family lives in Western Canada, so it wasn’t just a quick hour flight home. With the ticket booked, I had 20mins to pack before our engagement session started. Matt took me right to the airport when the session was over and I was on my way to Canada!!

I texted my sister to let her know I was coming, but wanted to keep it a surprise from my parents. At 11am on Sunday morning, my mom answered her front door and freaked out :) I was there just in time to help them finish the set up and wait for my dad to return. He came home to a surprise party and a few surprise guests, including myself. It was a memorable moment watching him realize I was there! And after the party was over it was such a great time with my family, just hanging out, that it made me even more grateful that I got to be there with them. Here’s a few iPhone pics I got while in the homeland.


So he got two cakes, I guess that’s what happens when you get old ;) A delicious citrus angel food cake made by my mom, and an orange chiffon cake made by my Aunt that was Grandma’s speciality and Dad’s favorite. And I snapped a couple of iPhone pics of him reading some of the memories.


Thank you so much to everyone who sent a memory!! It was a joy for my dad to read through and for us as a family to hear. He’s had so many great years, lived a very diverse life and we are all looking forward to seeing where the next 30 years leads him :)

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