Alright, this might be something of an anticlimax but here goes
After arriving in Ireland on March 31st we contacted Anne's daughter Gigi to see when it would be convenient to drop by. Due to Anne's health there wasn't to be a big birthday party on this very special birthday so we settled on the afternoon of April 1.
The satnav doesn't even know the lane Dragonhold-Underhill is on
but luckily by now I kow the way and with the new highway Newcastle is much easier to reach.
So we arrived at the beautiful house, where her daughter, son in law and only grandson nowadays also live to be closer to Anne which makes it a lot easier to take care of her and assist her with daily life, on the dot.
Last year I sent Anne flowers for her birthday in the name of all of us and I couldn't turn up without flowers now, couldn't I? I was tempted to buy and bring tulips (for which the time has now come) but since we arrived the day before the actual birthday I decided not to. Instead -- and without knowing Lanen and Steven had also sent her roses -- Marjon and I bought a small rosebush for Anne and this was the first gift we presented to her after entering the always hospitable Dragonhold.
As I have posted before it was not only Anne we visited this time, it would also be the very first meeting in person with Tania Opland and Mike Freeman, the musicians of two fine Pern CDs. Mike and Tania were already present at the hallowed kitchen table and it felt good to sit in the cosy kitchen at the pinewood table again. After introductions to the people present Anne came zooming in. And I litterally mean zooming in. With what is apparently a rollator with Formula One capabilities she moved into the kitchen so fast, she was sitting in her comfy, cushioned chair before I could have said "Hello Anne, congratulations, I decided to bring the flowers in person this year". Soon we were all sipping tea and eying the cookies on the table to see who would be the first to grab one. I think Mike Freeman won that contest.
First, building up to the other gifts, I gave her something I think she will love: a DVD and CD of three Dutch baritones. One of the better Dutch export products I might say. It is hard to find some opera or operetta Anne doesn't have listened to yet and I think I managed that feat.
Next was the binder I made with the wishes of all fans who posted their wishes on MOM and on AMCF and Master Maelin's wonderful birthday picture which was also included in the binder as the cover!
I immediately lost Anne because she couldn't resist and started reading right away!
Anne was delighted with the booklet as well as with all the good and special wishes she found within. After prying Anne away from her birthday "book" (I was very glad so many of you reacted to my call) I asked whether I should thank you all online at which I received a resounding "Yes of course!" I printed your messages large letter in an appropriate font and with those who didn't include soemthing to print I put your avatars with the message on the page. I think you all did well and Anne was clearly delighted with all the good cheer.
She also clearly loved the birthday portrait and when I explained it was the latest installment in the Anne McCaffrey Birthday Series by Linda Eicher she pointed to the dresser to the side of the kitchen table where the previous portrait has pride of place. Bt er... to my ever lasting shame I forgot to make a picture of it and I hope Linda will forgive me... I must admit I didn't make a lot of pictures. Anne doesn't really like it but is too polite to refuse a few and, I must admit, I also do not want to "play" the fawning fan who needs to register "every move she makes". I hope you all will understand. Trust me she loves the portraits and appreciates Linda's work and artistry as much as we do!
Then, Anne thought that was all but I said there was more and asked Anne if she remembered a certain young lady she met in Copenhagen, at Eurocon. I first got a bank look (not surpising as she is 85 after all) but when I said it was the one who presented her with the wooden dagger and the Pernese marks she remembered. Then I held a short speech about the play that probably had only ever been staged in the US and never in the UK and thus it had its UK premiere last December under the able directorhip of said Sara "Pernese marks
" Slack. I then presented the items to her one by one. Everybody was full of praise for the poster (Gigi did remark the artist didn't get the eyes right for a Pernese dragon but that the artistry was amazing). I also remarked that I had already seen much of the show on DVD and presented her with her own copy of it. It wouldn't have surprised me if she watched soem of it later or the next day. The fact that there was some of Mike and Tania's music to be heard too made the poor, still jet lagged, musicians ears perk up too, with Mike proudly showing Tania the program a moment later, stating that they also had made the program
I the next photo Mike Freeman's reading the program I think, with Anne perusing the birthday wishes, Tania Opland "just leaving stage right" and my dear wife (she even has a nice backside) sipping sipping tea:
On the premise that no lady should be without chocolate on her birthday we also presented Anne and her daughter with little Delft blue bowls with Dutch chocolate.
The florists had done a great job in making the little rosebush presentable and that gave us the chance for the picture of the day:
Alright folks. I'm sorry there's only a few pics but you know how it goes, you sit down, have a great time with some gret eople and just forget about the pictures. I think this last one speaks volumes though!
Anne McCaffrey thanks you all!