Those who know me are well aware that I enjoy joking around, especially if I think I can say or do something to leave you laughing - or speechless.

Such is the case today, as I commemorate my cousin's 60th birthday. Doris Hedrick Hitzfield (my Uncle Fred's daughter and my only female first cousin) is officially SIX DECADES old today. I say that tongue-in-cheek because it is Doris who first coined that phrase - on my 60th birthday a couple years ago.

It was harsh enough realizing that I was turning 60 - that ancient age that I once thought was marked by gray hair (thanks, Miss Clairol!), walking canes, a handful of prescription medications and a sure ticket to being called elderly. Somehow, today, that seems to be a far fetched line of thinking. It was hard enough having to say I was turning 60, but when Doris made a Facebook post about my being "six decades old" the situation got away with me. So I swore revenge would come on her "special" birthday and I've been making it a point to remind her of those brazen actions of my 60th since she has now reached that same milestone!

Part of that plan included being a part of her surprise birthday party last weekend. Doris is the planner of special events, and as I have written before when I was fortunate enough to take part of those occasions, she is the most organized, down-to-the-minute timed person I've ever met. There is no "laid back" time frame with Doris - she knows exactly what time which thing should start and be finished. She has planning events down to a science!

So it was with some challenge that her family decided to plan a party for the planner and surprise her with it. Much to their chagrin, they soon realized that Doris the Planner had all the decorations they needed for her party. Doris the Planner keeps all those items carefully stored away for each new event.

Then came the invitation from her brother for me to bake her cake, and spend the weekend with them to keep the surprise from the ever-suspecting Doris. That came with a few panic stages, especially when Doris called me two weekends prior and asked me to come up and spend her "birthday weekend" with her. I told her I'd think about it, then immediately called her sister-in-law, Geri, who was heading the event. A few days later, I texted Doris to tell her I had to work and couldn't come up. She didn't know I had already asked off work for the Friday before her party so I could go to Rob (her brother) and Geri's and make the cake.

Friday had me making that cake - one featuring a Granny Barbie, who was also "born" in 1959 - the year of Doris's birth. But Barbie was just as difficult to age as Doris is to try and fool - but the aging of Barbie is a column for next week!

Between the cake baking, Rob was roasting pork loin and chicken, which was then sliced and chopped (by hand) for the barbecue while Geri made baked beans and gathered up all the decorations. She then set to making Doris a poster depicting the memorable occasion by using candy bars to exemplify the message.

Geri, meanwhile, had covered the party by telling Doris that she was having Rob a cookout for his birthday, although his birthday is closer to this weekend (Aug. 4) than last weekend. She also told Doris that they might host a card game after the cookout. Doris's children, Robby and Heather, had already told her they couldn't host a party due to other obligations. But nosey Doris kept throwing out "feelers" to see if someone was going to have her a party, so then the plan came that her best friend Becky would call and invite her out to dinner the night of the party. Doris and Becky met in first grade and have been best friends since. If something is going on with Doris, Becky is always there. So the dinner invitation was another means to throw Doris off the scent of a surprise party - and it did have a definite effect on Doris's attitude as Rob's cookout date drew closer and closer.

It was somewhat concerning that Miss Prompt-to-the-Precise-Minute was 15 minutes late to the party. But the smile on her face when she walked through the door and saw her picture (at age 19) on the walls, the "Celebrate 60" decorations on the table and the resounding "Surprise" from the 40-plus people gathered to celebrate Doris was worth all the sneaking and plotting. Of course, when she made her way to me, her first words were, "You're a liar!" since I supposedly was in Kentucky doing my weekend duties for work!

There were a few tears slipping out of her eyes as she made her way to greet everyone present in her honor, but the joy that shone from her face was gift enough to all of us who love her.

But, her day has not yet completely passed and Facebook is the prime tool to show everyone the true Six Decades of Doris. If you're my Facebook friend, you've already seen several posts. I told her two years ago that payback was precious - now she's learning exactly that!

Happy Birthday, Doris! Enjoy your day, because I'm having an absolute ball posting all about your six decades! I love you dearly!!

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