My daughter, Sarah, and I were both August babies. Our birthdays are only four days apart, so we often share a celebration party. This year, due to the Covid pandemic, Sarah invited only our immediate family (all vaccinated) to her home for a birthday supper. My two sons, my step-daughter Teri, their spouses plus Jack and I were the chosen guests. Since I only live a block away from Sarah and Chris, I decided to walk over. Jack had opted out, as his knee was hurting a lot that day.

As I approached the house, I noticed someone (not family) going in through the front door. I couldn’t tell who it was, but figured I’d soon know when I went in. The garage door was open, so I let myself into the utility room, just off the kitchen. There, sitting at the kitchen counter, was my good friend, Susan Jenkins, who I’d long known from my years with the Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society. When her husband, Robert Ginsberg, started the jazz society, I was the first secretary for the board, and served about six years if memory serves me right. I helped set type for their monthly newsletter, did the layout, etc. My husband, Bert, and I even hosted the first outdoor jazz party in our backyard. Through the years, we grew as friends, so I was delighted to see her. I figured Robert would be coming soon, so I didn’t ask about him.

We were all talking and catching up, when Sarah told me to go into the living room to see my birthday present. She and Chris had already brought flowers and some fruit from the Farmer’s Market to my home the day before, on my actual birthday. So, I told her I already had my present. But she insisted. When I walked into the living room, I was surprised to see Robert Ginsberg and my favorite jazz pianist, Claudia Burson, setting up her keyboard. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. My very own jazz concert, my favorite music genre. What a perfect birthday gift for a jazz aficionado!

Everyone, of course, enjoyed the music. Son Bob loves jazz as much as I do and is a friend of Robert and Susan, as well. Supper was accompanied with wine and beer. Teri had baked a scrumptious strawberry cake for us two birthday gals. And I was surrounded by my kids. Who could ask for anything more?

P.S. After all the others had left, Sarah had one more surprise gift for me. She had my good friend, Rich Pierce, do an artist rendering of my office building. A splendid idea, and something I will hang in my home office to remind me of the 40 plus years I spent working for our company, Stafford & Associates and the Star Shopper.

– Joyce Stafford

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