Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lee Pops big 71st birthday party

Grandpa Lee celebrated his 71st birthday on April 12. To say it has been a rough year for our family is putting it mildly. In late Feb of this year after weeks of illness that would not improve he finally had an MRI of the brain and found out he had a brain tumor. I drove him to Los Robles hospital after learning the news at his primary doctors office and called Eric who met me in the ER. He was admitted to the hospital that night and underwent surgery three days later on March 3rd to remove as much of the tumor as possible. 
The type of tumor he has is called Glioblastoma Multiforme. It is a grade four cancerous tumor. His is located on the right side of his brain which is the "good" side because it does not control things like speech or movement. It is however important for memory, impulse control, and personality etc. The surgeon removed as much of the tumor as possible without damaging parts of the brain necessary for living.
He did well after surgery and after one week in the hospital and one week in a rehab center he was able to come home. He is still very unsteady walking and uses a walker to assist him now. 

After Dad's surgery his brother Stewart suffered a major heart attack and it was miraculous that he survived surgery and recovered in the hospital. Devastatingly, the very evening he returned home from the hospital he suffered another heart attack and passed away. Our very large family had never suffered a loss such as this and needless to say it was a horrible time for everyone. My dad's birthday happened to fall on a Saturday this year and was just one week after his brother's funeral. We thought about canceling his party but if we learned anything this year it was to enjoy the time you have with your loved ones because life is all too short. We invited all the family, friends, and neighbors to a park in Thousand Oaks and ordered tons of food, even a bouncy house for the kids.
It was a beautiful day, not too hot, which is lucky for southern California.
Joel flew in from Oregon and surprised Dad for his birthday. It was the best birthday present ever.
I think it counted as Mom's birthday present too.
We were missing Tonya and Owen & Charlie but they had all just come at spring break for a week.
My best friend Kristen came down from Northern California. We grew up together and my parents are very close to her as well.
Luckily Aunt Sonja was visiting at the time and got to be with us as well.
Gram and Jenny's twins, Emmy and Shea.
Rachel's family just loves Dad and wouldn't miss the party for the world. They even had to cancel a camping trip to be there.
Aunt Carol and her roomate and care giver Chris. They even got in on the bouncy castle fun too.
It was a wonderful day to enjoy family and relax after the stressful months before.
So many family members drove for hours to be there and it meant so much.
Ben and his BFF Jacob.
We ordered tons of food from Chipotle and set up a buffet. Dad said the prayer before the meal.
There was plenty of happy faces at lunch. Love little Quinn and Luke!
Dad had such a great time and that is the most important thing of all.
It wouldn't be a birthday without cake would it? Dad got his favorite pineapple upside down cake with a seven and one candle. It was a breezy day and it was hard to even keep the candles lit.
Lily was more than happy to help him blow them out.
Three cheers for the birthday boy!
I think you can call that a success.
Quite the crowd.
Little Maya and Dylan went for cupcakes with sprinkles.
Krista, Judy and Shirley were there to help celebrate.
What a gorgeous picture of Gram and Krista.
Mikey is always the life of the party.
Best Bro's.
The Peterson crew in attendance. This isn't even the whole family if that tells you how large we are!
Grammy and her kids Patsy, Penny, Sonja, and Dad.
Of course Carol likes her share of the spotlight and she and Dad are best buds.
The cousins had to get a little wild and crazy, like old times.
Here is a short video of Dad's prayer before the meal.
Special thanks go to cousin Jenny for taking all these wonderful photos for us. This day was special for so many reasons and it was the last time we were all together as a family before Grandma became gravely ill and passed away in May. 

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