Celebrating daddy#8217;s 90th birthday

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 14, 2006

My daddy, James Clifton Lee is said to be one of the most polite people that anyone has ever met. When he was able, he came to the rescue of anyone who needed help and has always thanked ones who did the same for him.

On Saturday, Jan. 7, he celebrated his 90th birthday and we children wanted to give him a celebration that he would remember for the rest of his life.

In the beginning, we had planned to just celebrate with residents of the George Washington Rehabilitation Center in Chesapeake, where he now resides. In the end, we decided to give him a celebration with relatives and friends.


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Relatives attending were sister, Dora Scott; niece, Mildred Mial; sister-in-law, Maddie Vann; Lloyd Porter and Janice Basnight, cousins. Children attending were Earlene Banks, Shirley, Lee, James Calvin Lee and Evelyn Wall. Grandchildren attending were Charlene Jones, and Mark Wall

and great-grandchildren attending were Cory Banks and Charnele Banks. Devoted friends attending were the Rev. William Johnson, Rev. Elnora Grant, Deacon Chris Jones, Willadine Kidd and Eddie Davis. Friends residing at the center attending were his roommate, Paul Barfield, Helen Sights, Robert Leigh, Mary Boyd, Gerry Young and Eva Mae Hutchins.

Daddy loves red, so our color scheme was red, which included a red and brown birthday cake; and we children all chose to wear red and put daddy in his favorite red sweater.

Daddy loves to play the harmonica, and the Rev. Johnson gave him one as a gift last Christmas. After Happy Birthday was played by Johnson on his harmonica, he and daddy played a few more selections. Cake and punch was served and Banks and I gave a little history of the family and the part daddy played in making his children

successful in their chosen fields of employment.

Earlene introduced his nurses on the north wing of the center and I read his birthday cards aloud to the attendees and opened his presents.

About a week before Thanksgiving we thought that this day would never take place, because daddy had not eaten for a long time and was rushed to Maryview Hospital in Portsmouth with complications. He remained there for about two weeks. During the middle of December he began to slow down once more and a trip to Atlantic City that my sisters and my niece, Charlene and her husband Willie had planned to take on was almost up in the air. Close to the departure date, he began to improve and the nurses on the north wing where his room is located encouraged us to go on the trip.

In the meantime, thanks to loving saints like the Rev. Grant, who checked him often while we were gone, I don’t think that we were missed too much. And when we visited him on Dec. 29, he was once more in a very pleasant mood.

Nurses at the center and at Maryview Hospital said that no matter what they do or did for him, he always commented, “Thanks nice lady or ladies.”

When the doctor performed surgery on him at Maryview he thanked him.

Whenever we children go to see him he always says, “It is nice to see you all, all at one time.” He greeted us in the same way at his birthday celebration as we entered the dining room area and thanked us for coming when we left.

Daddy is still in his right mind and can remember things from the present to his childhood.

When he was able to drive he drove a yellow Ford. Even though he is confined to a wheelchair because of arthritis, his goal is to one day drive a red Ford.

We children always encourage him that he will to give him hope for living as long as he can. We also have been told by nurses and doctors that this goal and his friends and our constant visits are what is keeping him from getting too depressed.

The next best thing that I could have done was to enter his picture and name in the Birthday ad that will begin to publish on Jan. 17. If you don’t want an important birthday moment to slip through your fingers, I urge you to take advantage of that opportunity.

Wall is a former News-Herald reporter and regular contributor to this section.