An 80th birthday party becomes an opportunity to showcase a true Detroit gem: MMODD

Last week I shared my thoughts on turning 80.  This week I’m sharing my biggest celebration. (Yes, there’ve been more than one.  I’m squeezing every drop out of the occasion.)

While in Florida, I was trying to plan a party in Michigan as well as a birthday summer family trip.  I was stressing out from the details.  And, yes, I realize these are good problems—but, at 80 it’s harder to keep multiple balls in the air. I’m blessed with two capable, connected and helpful daughters-in-law. Nadine suggested I talk to Melissa Vitale Feldman, who took over the Detroit party. Amy put me in touch with New York travel agent Michelle Boyarski, who steered the overseas aspects. Both resources were godsends.

A few months earlier, BFF Brenda Rosenberg had taken me to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Design Detroit (MMODD).  I was delighted to see such creative displays and to meet director Leslie Pilling.  I also met Chuck Duquet, on the first floor.  Chuck’s an obsessive collector who runs what is supposed to be a gallery.  In reality, it’s more of a warehouse for the fine art Chuck obsessively acquires, mostly by Detroit artists.  Having a decent collection of Cass Corridor Art myself, I was delighted to meet a like-minded enthusiast.

Spending so much time away from Detroit, I’m eager, when I return, to see all the city has to offer.  If I’d been unaware of these two venues, I thought, many friends must be as well.  I decided to host my birthday celebration at MMODD.  And to invite not only dear girlfriends, but others with whom I’d like to be dear friends if only I spent more than a nanosecond in my hometown each year.

Problem: MMODD is fairly small, sizewise, and contains displays around which one must tread carefully.

Solution: Melissa’s idea to for a “strolling brunch” in a limited time frame.  That meant mostly high-top tables and less elaborate settings and food.

Quite a few invitees were still in Florida or California or in transit. But a good number were in the D.  I loved seeing them. Rather than bring a gift, I requested friends donate to MMODD.  Happily, most obliged.

Leslie recommended singer Kimmie Horne to provide background music.  The grand-niece of famed singer/actress Lena Horne, Kimmie was perfect.

My adored sister came from California to spend the week with me.  Anne’s a talented singer.  (Sadly I didn’t inherit that gene, but I’m an enthusiastic listener.)  At her wedding several decades ago, Anne sang Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” to her about to be husband, Bob Smith.  That started a tradition; Anne has sung the song on every special occasion since. At my party, I requested it, and Kimmie joined Anne in a delightful impromptu duet.

Both my daughters-in-law attended and spoke beautifully about me. The highest compliment of all: even if we weren’t related, they’d want me for a friend. Ditto!

Currently in the D, I run into others I wish I’d invited.  With Burton’s illness, I’ve been out of social commission for five years.  The bad news is over time  I’ve lost so many fabulous women friends I wish could have been there.  The good news: I still have many wonderful ones, though most tend to be younger than I.  That’s how the ginger snaps crumble when you’re lucky enough to hit 80.

So far, so good, thank God.  I savor the cookies I can.  And am grateful, dear friends and readers, for your birthday wishes and support over several decades.

At MMODD with director Leslie Pilling in front of painting by family friend Jamie Wineman, aka WolfgangGang

From left: Henrietta Fridholm, Beth Singer, Brenda Rosenberg, Suzy, Grace Serra

With my two daughters in law: Amy (left) and Nadine

With my sister Anne Towbes and singer Kimmie Horne


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