Family celebrates milestone birthday with creativity

By Darren Lum

Published Aug. 4 2020

When 90-years-young birthday grandma Doris Brown stood at her front door in Haliburton looking out at the lawn where family members were putting the finishing touches on the collection of 90 birthday cards and other keepsakes that came from family friends and neighbours she said “You’re all crazy.”
Brown who is known to family as Grandma Mom Doe and Dodie was a little taken aback by the attention still wearing her robe and curlers in her hair.
“No no. I never saw [this coming]. I’ve driven by places [with these types of celebrations] but it never dawned on me. Usually my birthday has come and gone and everybody is on holidays” she said referring to birthdays when she was younger.

The mother of eight grandmother to 25 great-grandmother to 23 with two great-great-grandchildren has an obvious legacy of love.
Responding to the number of mementos left on her front property Brown quipped: “I have 90 aches and pains.”
“It looks awesome” someone said.
“It looks awesome?” she replied. “A good job it does.”

Daughter Allison Perecko who helped to organize the effort said her mother doesn’t like surprises – it was her late father who was the prankster.
But after a few minutes passed and the initial surprise wore off Brown was smiling.
“I don’t like surprises but what are you going to do” she said. “I mean you’re sort of outnumbered and I know it sort of spoils it. If I hear there is a surprise I try to find out what it is.”
Perecko said her mother would have been a great lawyer because of her ability to get to the truth. Little ever gets by her mother’s questioning.
The last time anything like this was done for Brown was five years ago for her 85th birthday. Perecko said her mother didn’t like to be the centre of attention.

Brown’s daughter Jocelyn Rodgers came up with the idea of decorating the lawn as a way of doing something special during the pandemic. Rodgers wasn’t able to attend due to work in Mount Albert.
Success depended on a few white lies and distraction and because Perecko usually collects her mom’s mail she was able to intercept the birthday greetings. “I’ve just been giving her junk mail and her bills” she said laughing.
To keep the ruse going she made sure to pass on one birthday greeting card from her granddaughter from Singapore which came a day before Brown’s birthday.
Perecko said her mother only needs the simple things in life to be happy. “Bring her a tea biscuit to go with her cup of tea … she’s quite satisfied with that. She’s a very contented person” she said.
Brown endured the Depression raised eight children and did so while moving around with her husband who worked for the railway.

Her centred existence and strong faith in God has been integral to raising eight children and a long and full life Perecko said. It was all a conscious effort.
“Just keep going. Take the next step. You know. Just do the next thing. Raising eight children that’s exactly what she had to do. She decided she’s going to be contented” she said.