Bill KirbyOnline news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Eight decades ... and counting

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It takes a long time to grow young.

– Pablo Picasso

We all went home for Mama’s birthday this weekend. It was her 80th and it was special.

All four of her children were there.

Both of her great-granddaughers – the cutest little girls you’ve ever seen – came up from Louisiana.

A grandson from Charleston cut short an overseas vacation to drop in. Other grandchildren, extended family, in-laws, out-laws and even my white terrier – the “grand-dog” – enjoyed each other’s company at a dining room table extended with several additions so far into the living room that Daddy had to raise his voice (never a problem) from his end to offer the blessing.

We ate and then mostly we just hung out. Told the same old stories. Added new updates on those who weren’t there and rolled around on the floor with the little ones.

My younger sister (an almost 60-year-old triathlete, who has also run a marathon) wanted to jog around the neighborhood with her big brother. I dutifully slipped into my shorts, laced up my shoes and trotted manfully until we were out of sight from the house and then began walking.

It was comfortable. It was fun. It was family.

The biggest challenge was taking pictures.

Everyone had a small camera or a cellphone and was trying to get the perfect group shot. At one point, four different cameras were trained at a selected setting of Mama and her children ... then Mama and her grandchildren. Then Mama and everyone who could fit within the confines of the frame.

We kept trying to figure out how to set a timer so everyone could get in it, but there wasn’t anything to brace it on, so we’ll just have to have the selected parts.

It was a great day.

Finally, the shadows began to fall and the guests began to leave, all eventually making the way back to the homes they have elsewhere.

But, as usual, part of us all stays behind in that home where we all grew up, that we all once left, that we all know we can come back to anytime we want.

And when we do, we are fed and filled and hugged and held by a woman whose 80 years have been a lesson in love.

All birthdays should be so happy.

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