Pre-90th birthday party honors Anne Mitchell

BY EMMA C. CAVIN, Contributor

ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg/Clearwater Marriott was the site of a festive group of friends and family who were gathered to honor Anne Lumpkin Mitchell as she celebrated her 89th birthday.

Her true age is a surprise to many since she actually looks like she is closer to 60, with the energy of a person 45 or 50 years old.   She still operates her alterations business, bakes cakes, goes shopping, participates in various activities at church and prepares scrumptious soul-food meals when requested by a family member.

It was a wonderful day for Mitchell, as she selected her birthday finery in preparation for the evening. Like other years when her family celebrated her birthday, she was expecting to have a small dinner party with her sons, daughter and a few friends who reside locally.   The Mitchell children told their mother that they wanted to give her a party that she could enjoy, but they gave her no details other than the fact that this dinner party would be at a hotel.

So that she would be relaxed and ready for the party, she received spa pampering before her son, Thad, took her to the hotel and checked her into a suite to rest before getting dressed for her party.

Imagine Mitchell’s surprise when she walked into the banquet room.  Not only did she see her close family gathered there, but also the room was filled with friends and family from every phase of her life.

A sister-in-law came from North Carolina, a nephew from California, sons from Texas and Maryland and friends from Georgia, New York and all parts of Florida.  Smiling, cheering and singing, “Happy birthday to you!” were her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, church members, friends from the neighborhood where her children grew up, her current neighbors, her sister-in-law of 60 years, her customers from her seamstress business, former teachers and coworkers of her children and the class of 1974 — her daughter’s classmates.

“It was so nice to see so many people.  There had to be at least a hundred!” Mitchell commented.

The activities for the evening included a program with granddaughter Brittney Mitchell as Mistress of Ceremonies. Following the entrance of the honoree, the songs, poems and acknowledgements heard were all expressions of the joy Mitchell has brought into their lives.

The invocation was given by Pastor Ronald Gibson, and Ja’Leah Mitchell gave the welcome and a slide show presentation reflected the lives of Mitchell and her children through the years.

Many individuals made short speeches about a number of humorous incidents from their childhoods as well as through their adult lives.  The nature of the situation, they all noted, did not alter the love and affection they received from Mitchell.

Her home was always a safe and cheerful haven for children and adults.  That is, if you could tolerate the jokes and pranks of her sons, Thad and Stephen, or the possessiveness of her only daughter, Sharon.

Sharon had to frequently remind her friends that Mitchell was her mama, not theirs.   Of course none of this stopped anyone from dropping by, staying for dinner, sometimes even spending the night.  She was there for them all.

Following the food and reflections of the partygoers, Mitchell let the group know how she felt about the evening’s activity.

“First,” she said, “I want to praise God for the longevity of my life.  A recent illness makes me even more grateful because it reminds me of just how fragile life really is.   Evidently, God loves me and has a reason for allowing me to still be here.  I thank Him and I pray that I can do His will.”

She went on to express that the party showed her that there are many people who love her. “Some love me because God said so and they are afraid that He will get them if they don’t. Others have the love of God within them, so they love me unconditionally. For me, it is all good,” she concluded.

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