OPH: 90th Birthday

by - August 25, 2021

As I write, Brisbane is in lockdown because COVID has gone wild in multiple schools across the city. Thousands of households have been impacted, so instead of my regular Phamly visit on Sundays, I am homebound. I feel lucky to have snuck a trip down to Melbourne in June to celebrate a 90th birthday, and pay respects to a gentleman who had an immensely positive influence on my childhood. Though, by the time the birthday event happened, the Birthday Boy had turned 91. Last year when COVID first hit, this 90th birthday in April 2020 was the first of what later turned out to be many trips I had to cancel as the country went into lockdown. 

I was very happy and very glad to make it to Melbourne for a whirlwind trip in June this year. I was there for 48 hours and made zero other plans (sorry any Melbourne friends reading this) besides the 90th birthday and conspiring with my cousin to surprise my Aunty on my one free night. 

I stayed with childhood bestie, B (back when I used to have best friends, now you're either a good friend or not a friend) in her mum and the Birthday Boy's house in inner-city Melbourne. Their glorious two storey old Victorian home is where I spent most of my time when I wasn't at school or at home. The sights and smells brought back nostalgic memories of many years in my child to teen-hood. I hadn't realised until I stayed here again (this time in the guest room instead of B's bunk bed... partially because I'm an adult but mainly because her bunk bed is no longer around) that this house was my childhood sanctuary. The feeling of calm and nurturing that little me would have been too oblivious to observe and appreciate did not go over my head this time. 

Kitchen where I spent many hours of my youth

Birthday Boy was like surrogate father to younger me. He'd take care of us after school, made sure we did our homework and had snacks. When we got to high school because neither of my parents drove or had a car, he'd carpool Little Sissy Pham and me to school. He was always generously looking out for us growing up. I didn't clue on to the fact he needed us kids just as much as we needed him. 

The Maritime Union of Australia hosted Birthday Boy's big bash. It was a momentous occasion where they acknowledged the wrongs of the past that saw Birthday Boy ousted from the union and no longer employed. The timing happened to align with B bringing home a few kids from school who Birthday Boy took under his wing as part of his full-time stay at home dad duties. 

I was honoured and humbled to get an invite to his birthday, along with a function room full of other guests he'd positively impacted over the years. I wouldn't risk a COVID-19 lockdown and quarantining for many people, but Birthday Boy and B are extended Phamly. Worth the trip. Wish I could have stayed longer but I had a postponed 2020 wedding to fly to Cairns for. That saga will be another blog post. 

The always well-stocked fruit bowl from where I tasted nectarines and peaches for the first time

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