Lucky 88th Birthday Luau

While all eyes of the world may have been turned towards Beijing last night, our family was celebrating the Lucky 8 in an extra special way. My paternal grandmother Adeline Kleven Seely Proctor celebrated 88 years of life on the 8th day of the 8th month of the ’08th year!

The Birthday Girl
The Birthday Girl

She got a lot of well-deserved attention over this unusual and special event, also! Two television stations interviewed her, a local radio station did a broadcast from her living room, and she even got a nice mention in one of the major newspapers. Finally she exclaimed, “Well, I feel so spoiled, I really am getting embarrassed!” (But of course, we know she secretly was eating it all up!)

Thanks to her five children (and spouses) diligent planning, all of Adeline’s family and friends were gathered together to enjoy a fabulous Luau in her honor. Although the skies had threatened rain all afternoon, we were blessed ( “lucky” ) to have perfect weather when party time arrived.
Adeline's 5 Children
Adeline’s 5 Children

Grandma Adeline is one of the most social and funny women on the planet. She loves to party, play games, tell stories, and laugh. Lots and lots of laughing! Which is good, because she has carried her share of sorrows, including the loss of her parents, all of her siblings, many dear friends and two beloved husbands. She told the reporters today that the secret to life is “Be happy, enjoy life, see the beauty around you and don’t worry too much about things, you know! Worry doesn’t help” She also says it doesn’t hurt to be Norwegian – because “We don’t age”.

Having a good party once in awhile is a very important part of the anti-aging recipe! Grandma Adeline and my grandfather Hale Seely had a large group of friends (8 married couples) who have met monthly for the past 60 plus years. They called themselves “The Gang,” and they were there for each other through thick and thin. The Gang celebrated each other’s joys and sorrows and every stage of their lives; births, infant blessings, baptisms, missions, weddings, funerals and everything in-between. As the years went by, The Gang started going on trips together, and they continued to have “game nights” – often visiting and laughing until 2 in the morning.
Forever Friends
Two of The Gang – “Forever Friends”
Sadly, today all of the men in “The Gang” have passed away, and only three of the women remain. However, those other two gals were there tonight whooping it up right along with Adeline during her not-to-be-missed Lucky 8 Luau!
Around 200 friends and family gathered in a beautiful backyard (actually, maybe there were more than that, it was a BIG yard) this evening ready to celebrate! The food was fabulous, the entertainment was spectacular, and the opportunity to reconnect with relatives was priceless. Of course, it wouldn’t be a party with Adeline unless there was lots of humor, and tonight was no exception!  Some of it was planned, and some of it was not!

The Planned Humor

Adeline’s oldest son, Ray (my dad) told a story of when he was most embarrassed by his mother. When he was about 14 the entire Seely family of 5 children, plus his parents went to the Lagoon Amusement Park. At that time, the swimming pool at the park was one large Olympic-sized pool, with a small slide at one end, a diving board at the other, grass all around and a dressing room. Very basic. No fancy stuff like water-slides, etc. that you would find today. However, the one luxury was an inner-tube rental stand, and the children begged to get one.

Locker Room

So, Adeline went into the dressing room to get her purse, and she was shocked to find a man standing right next to her locker! “Since when did they let men in here?” she piped up. To which he replied “You usually find men in a men’s locker room!” Mortified, Adeline clasped her hands tightly over her eyes and cried loudly “How do I get out?” to which the unsympathetic man yelled “The same way you came in, Lady!”

The Unplanned Humor

a.k.a. The Birthday Cake.
Preparing the Cake
Preparing the Cake

My cousin, aunts and I carefully placed (approximately) 88 candles in Adeline’s birthday cake. Then, with a long torch lighter, we began lighting all of them. There was only one problem. When we turned around ready to sing Happy Birthday … no Adeline! As it turns out, grandma had decided to go inside the house to use the restroom. And, there we were with 88 candles making a small bonfire on the table.

Now, I realize that when you are 88 years old, you are certainly allowed to spend as much time as you like in the restroom. But, please know that every minute is going to be very noticeable when your birthday candles are already ablaze!

Waiting...and Burning
Waiting…and Burning

The photos tell the story better than I can…it was not long before the candles had burned down to cake level. The frosting roses ignited first, so we quickly made the decision to rescue the rest by unceremoniously blowing grandma’s candles out.

When 88 Wax Candles Run Wild
When 88 Wax Candles Run Wild

We got word right about then that Grandma was headed back and eager to blow out her candles! We frantically started pulling off all the mangled wax stubs, and reinserting new candles into the empty holes (quite a bit of wax had to be picked off carefully in order to reopen some of the candle holes). Once again, the candles were in place, the torch was lit and I led the group in singing a loud and energetic “Happy Birthday” song!

Blowing Out 88 Candles! (you try it)
Blowing Out 88 Candles! (you try it)

From the photos, it looks like poor grandma was in serious danger trying to blow out all those flames! But she did get them all blown out safely, with a little help from her “lucky 8” great-grandchildren!

The Entertainment

We were treated with authentic Island dancing – and the crowning event was a fire dance by one of the lead fire dancers from the Polynesian Culture Center who happened to be in town this week (lucky again) and is the twin brother of the family who was entertaining us. So, we got a really dazzling show!

Samoan Fire Dancing

Beijing may have had singing, dancing, laughter, fire and tender moments – but our family didn’t miss any of that last night! We had it all – and more – at grandma’s Lucky 88th Birthday Luau.

Happy Birthday, my dear grandmother Adeline. I love you so much, and we are all looking forward to your next 88 years! – MoSop



  1. Hooray for MoSop’s Grandma! I love grandparents. I’m always amazed to think about what our grandparents have lived through, with lives spanning most of the 20th Century. My grandparents lived through the depression, both of my grandfathers fought in the Navy in WWII, they went through the baby boom years, the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s, and already seemed “old” when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s. I’m very fortunate that all four of my grandparents are still alive. As far as I’m concerned, you can always Tivo the Olympics. But you only get to go to Grandma’s 88th birthday luau bash once.

    Did you get a day off this morning? It was kind of funny, because that’s the one Music and the Spoken Word we always keep recorded, because the girls like to watch it every Sunday. I guess they just really like those Chinese kids. In fact they had watched it earlier this morning. When it came on, I thought my wife had just decided to play it yet again.


  2. Very nice sentiments, Sweet! I also feel extremely blessed to have three of my grandparents still living. They are such a treasure. I am constantly amazed at the huge span of history and changes they have experienced over the past Century.

    The Choir has been on a mini-tour to Sun Valley Idaho this weekend to perform with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves. Since the return home could not be in time for the Sunday morning broadcast, a previously recorded program was shown. A rerun happens only about once per year – so it is funny the particular program chosen turned out to be one your family watches often. 🙂 That particular broadcast was chosen in honor of the Beijing Olympics.


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