There was much hugging and kissing and shaking of hands, a non-alcoholic toast, and tributes to the birthday girl. There was a very respectable spread of fried chicken, ham, collard greens, potato salad, and macaroni salad, followed by a huge cake. A disc jockey spun records, and a lot of stepping took place. One of Donna's sisters read a poem, a couple of grandchildren sang, and the Reverend Willard Cofield of Alden Baptist Church played a trumpet solo.
The elderly lady sitting next to me, a former longtime neighbor of the Eddingtons, turned out to be a local freelance writer whose columns I have been reading for years. Right now we are both writing for the same editor. We happily commiserated at some length about the lack of respect afforded to freelancers. Ms. Michaels also entertained us with colorful reminiscences of the entire Eddington family in the '60s and '70s.
At one point during the festivities, Donna chided me for not recognizing her sister-in-law Trina, with whom I had worked briefly a few years ago. A few minutes later, we were arguing about one of her nephews. I said it was Orlando; she said it wasn't. A tablemate called the boy over and asked him his name. "Orlando," he said, and dashed off.
"Well, he looks different with his hair in braids," said Donna, justifying her mistake. Whatever. When you can't even keep track of all the people in it, that's when you know you have a big family.