Gradually, the house filled up with relatives and friends, some of whom we hadn't seen in years. It was about as much as Mom and Dad were up to, and wound down when Mom went back to bed.
This fit the definition of a bittersweet occasasion for me. Sweet, because last Christmas, we weren't sure we would see this day. Sweet, because we got to praise Mom and dad for their accomplishements: 50 years of faithful marriage and five children--all alive, all employed, all married or in long-term relationships; none dead, divorced, imprisoned, or insane; which is not a bad accomplishment by today's standards.
Bitter, because I had envisaged this day years ago as a greater festival, with Mom and Dad able to dance and perhaps be taking a trip. Instead, Mom's stuck in a wheelchair and Dad's so bent over he looks like a walking question mark when he shuffles around. The motorhome they loved collects dust in its garage. 69 isn't that old, dammit! There were friends and family there, their own age or older, who were in much better shape, hale and hearty. One man we thought had one foot in the grave ten years ago--he still has bloated fingers indicative of his long battle with heart disease, but he still appears to be doing better than they are.
I don't wish to be envious of others' better fortune, but it does reinforce my determination to do things NOW, while I can. The future is too uncertain and far away.