ST. PETERSBURG — Surprise, surprise! When the blindfold was removed, Mrs. Katherine Bozeman Jones looked around the new banquet hall, which was beautifully decorated in purple and white.
“Nice atmosphere; I like the music,” Mrs. Jones mused. Then, she carefully began to look at the people, as some of them looked a bit familiar. As she began to listen closely, she began to hear what she thought were familiar voices. After curiously looking and listening to everything, she recognized her niece and the voice of an Alumni Choir member.
Finally, she noticed a sign above the buffet area that read “kitchen.” This beautiful “new” banquet hall, she realized, was actually the fellowship hall of her church! The faces and voices seemed familiar because they were.
The entire room was filled with her neighbors, former neighbors, friends, former co-workers, church choir members, Alumni Singers, a childhood friend and her own family. From Texas to Georgia, they all pilled in to celebrate Mrs. Jones’ 90th birthday Saturday, April 16 at Bethel Community Baptist Church.
Not only were her children hovering around her, but also there were grandchildren, great-grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews. Seeing them all together was something she was looking forward to later in the year, during the summer or during the winter holidays. But the joy this surprise brought to her and this group of celebrants was immeasurable.
She was almost too excited to eat the delicious dinner or a slice of that mouthwatering cake with her age on it.
The program included short talks from some and notes from all of the guests, many of which were read to the group and saved in a notebook for Mrs. Jones to read again and again. Numerous birthday cards with gift cards were given so she can enjoy many hours of shopping at a wide variety of stores.
Swapping stories, recalling special experiences, planning a similar gathering for a later date, eating and taking pictures kept the group engaged all evening. Roses were presented to Mrs. Jones by her children. Four of her six children were present for Saturday’s party and Sunday’s family gathering.
Four of her six children were present for Saturday’s party and Sunday’s family gathering. Dean, the oldest son, Derek, Duane, and Dawn were just as excited as their mother about this celebration. Dana, her second son, is deceased.
Tuesday morning, Deidra, her other daughter, drove from Atlanta to take her mother shopping and out to lunch. With her were her daughter Moira and her four-month-old grandbaby girl. With four generations together, Mrs. Jones had another exciting day! She felt the love and basked in the warmth of it.
Granddaughters Carmella and Damita took pictures of all of the partygoers. Back at the hotel and at church on Sunday, more photographs were taken. The two of them plan to make memory books to hold the pictures, cards, and other memorabilia from this eventful time.
Grandson Julian, a second year college student, said that, “Having a grandmother is awesome! I am especially pleased that she is so full of energy and has a good memory. My family is very fortunate to have her. She keeps up with all of us. Many of my friends do not have a grandmother.”
The first phase of the surprise unfolded Friday evening when Mrs. Jones received a call from her daughter Dawn and son-in-law Logan. They wanted to let her know that they were driving from Atlanta to take her out to dinner Saturday afternoon for an early celebration of her birthday.
More surprising was the ringing of the doorbell just minutes later and those two faces smiling at her when she opened the door. They were already in town and on the way to check into their hotel.
Mrs. Jones was not expecting anyone to come to visit until the weekend after her birthday, which was Tuesday, April 19. If you ask what she likes about surprises, Mrs. Jones will usually tell you that she doesn’t like them at all. She likes to know what is ahead and what she is supposed to do.
“Getting surprised almost knocked me out! I had to sit down for a minute,” Mrs. Jones explained.
Baffled by the way her children worked to get so many people together with no one letting her know about the plans, she continued to ask, “How did they do that?”
Mrs. Jones is now 90 years young and very active in church and community activities. She travels, sings in concerts, works at the polls, runs her own business and just enjoys the great life that God is allowing her to live.