Birthday Weekend

Charlie’s Birthday Weekend

Nothing is more discomforting than having your husband turn 69 and not being able to get out of the house to purchase a present, or even a card.  What’s a girl to do?  Pull something out of your hat! Quick!

I called my friend Laura and asked if she and her 2nd grade daughter could come over for dinner.  “By the way, can you bring pizza?” I asked.  She did.  After dinner Charlie read the little girl some stories and she fell asleep on the guest bed.

For the adults, to bed and falling to sleep should be next step. But no, we had to engage in a discussion (a mixture of parenting, politics and bible based church dogma) that lasted until 1 AM. Charlie, the wise almost 69 year old went to bed.  Laura and I were quite rummy from the late hour already but decided in that late night early morning state to have a “wee shot of whiskey”.  The shots were very small as they from the little jam and jelly jars that we saved from the advent calendar.  We thought these shots were about 1/3 the amount in a regular 1 oz shot glass. Laura thought we should have a  chaser so  down they went with a swig of Shasta lemon lime soda.  (later we discovered the little jars held the same as a shot)

As with all late night shot drinking conversations, we passed through the stages of “see it doesn’t even affect me” to “omg everything you do or say is hysterically funny,” to ”I want to tell you my deepest darkest secrets but I am just not drunk enough”  to “ now I am sappy cry a little.“

I must have gone over the edge with one comment because about 4 am, Laura abruptly stood up from her comfortable lounging on the Blue Couch and announced:


I replied: Ok I’ll help you get the little miss to the car. 

No way am I driving,  I am going to go and lay down with her.

 And she did.  She slept in, and as she slept I developed more of the birthday plan  and  I wanted to get him in the pickup and on the road for his birthday surprise. She looked like she had been to hell and back, stretched out on the Blue Couch and said  “advil please.  3 or four please. I made some breakfast for all and tried to move my friend along.  Soon it was noon and I wanted us to be on our way. 

I actually did develop a couple more ideas for Charlie’s birthday.  One was to drive to Yakima and eat lunch at the legendary “Miner’s” a hamburger joint. I had also asked a squad of people to text or call Charlie between 2 and 4 pm.  He was driving when the phone started ringing.  I suddenly had the urge TO DRIVE. At this point I don’t think Charlie had caught on. He pulled the truck over and we exchanged positions. Light traffic on the interstate allowed me to cruise along without too much anxiety.  But I was anxious none-the-less.  I saw the exit sign and decelerated, finally having to  ind the brake pedal with my numb foot.

Plowed snow lined the streets, was piled up car height at the driveways, and filled the far reaches of the parking lots. I saw an opening in the walls of snow and turned in so we could switch drivers.

The Miner’s parking lot was just a block away.  We went inside and looked at the menus posted on the walls facing the customerless lobby.  I had never seen it like this.

I peeked at my phone while we were waiting and I saw my high school friend Karen, who I saw once in the past 40 years, was on  messenger.   So, I messaged.  Within five minutes the birthday plan had a new twist.  Dinner was to be eaten at a restaurant Zillah called THE WAREHOUSE.  And there was entertainment. On Saturday night while the customers enjoyed a great tasting prime rib, they also were entertained by a live furniture auction.  I am not kidding.   Karen and her husband, Charlie and I had a marvelous time.  We won’t wait another 40 years to see each other.

So from humble beginnings of pizza and politics came a birthday Charlie will remember.

Thanks, God, for easy pleasers.

Published by Carol Clupny, author The Ribbon of Road Ahead: One Woman's Remarkable Journey with Parkinson's Disease

I am a middle aged woman with Parkinson's Disease. When I was first diagnosed I spent a lot of time researching the disease. Seeing a video of a man in the advanced stages of the disease attempting to get out of his chair and then "freezing" as he tried to walk across the room got me off my butt and moving. Great adventures on the Camino de Santiago and with TEAM Pedaling for Parkinson's across IOWA, as well as the day to day adventures of life have lead me to writing. My first novel, a memoir, was published early 2019. It is called, you got it THE RIBBON OF ROAD AHEAD. Living with the degenerative neurological disease Parkinson's, ULTREIA is a word that guides me. I have chosen it as the name of my business ULTREIA BOOKS. It comes from Latin and old French and means "unfailing courage". In the old days, pilgrims would call "Ultreïa" to each other as encouragement "Go up, go further!" Nowadays we would say "You can do this thing". It takes courage to live with Parkinson's. May I face each day with unfailing courage. Ab Here is more about me; I was living an active lifestyle riding horses, hiking, climbing and snow skiing when at age fifty I was diagnosed with Parkinsons. Retiring from my career as a speech-language pathologist I decided to “take to the road” to battle the disease. My first steps, walking out her door to the mailbox, lead to trekking over 1000 miles of pilgrimage trails on the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain. A dusty bike discovered in the garage resulted in four rides on the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa with the Pedaling for Parkinsons Team. These adventures inspired me to write a memoir The Ribbon of Road Ahead: One Woman’s Remarkable Journey with Parkinson’s Disease. I blogs about my everyday life as a middle-aged woman in the mid-stages of Parkinson’s disease. My honest, humorous, and casual narrative style brings the reader to an intimate understanding of my resilience and acceptance. My blog, sharing the name of my book ”The Ribbon of Road Ahead” can be found at After completing a Masters of Science in Speech Pathology from Eastern Washington University I received certification in School Leadership and Administration from Lewis and Clark College. I provided speech pathology services and later became a program director completing 32 years in the wide geographic expanse of eastern Oregon. Active in the Oregon Speech-Language and Hearing Association I received honors of the association and the presidential award for work on recruitment and retention of speech and hearing professionals. Il presented numerous papers and projects at local, state and regional professional conferences. I was appointed by Governor Ted Kulongoski to two terms of the Oregon Board of Examiners of Speech Pathology and Audiology, the state’s licensing and consumer protection agency. Since my diagnosis in 2008, I has become active in the Parkinson’s community as an advocate, an Ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation and support group facilitator for Parkinson's Resources of Oregon. I was appointed the regional patient representative for the Parkinson's Foundation’s Women with PD TALK study. In September of 2019 the Michael J Fox Foundation selected me to participate in the Parkinson’s Policy Forum in Washington DC. As an attendee at the World Parkinson Congress in 2016 in Portand, Oregon, I presnted a poster session examining the decision making process for patients considering deep brain stimulation. At the 2019 WPC in Kyoto, Japan I presented a poster on vision concerns of women with PD and lead small group discussions. Myr book The Ribbon of Road Ahead has provided many speaking opportunities for Carol. In 2019 and early 2020 she visited 24 support groups in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California to share her thoughts on living well with the disease. In addition, she has presented talks for The Center on Aging in San Francisco, Parkinson's Place in Las Vegas, Northwest Parkinson's Foundation in Richland WA and virtually through their HOPE online program. In late 2020 I rejuvenated her voice and narrated her book. It became available as an audio book in 2021. As part of this project I read stories over the airwaves on RadioParkies Australia with DJ Madonna and in Great Britain with DJ Johnny Parky. She and her husband Charlie have two adult sons. They live on a small hobby farm in eastern Oregon. Contact Information: Carol Clupny PO BOX 128, Hermiston, OR 97838 (541) 720-4256

3 thoughts on “Birthday Weekend

  1. what a story! I love how the occasion blossomed into something really special–esp in this pandemic time!

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