Happy 60th Birthday Charles Johnson

I attended my friend Charles Johnson’s surprise party last night (5/27/16) and I had a blast. Although all the guests knew about the shindig a month ago, Charles had no idea until he showed up. His wife, Andrea Johnson, had been planning this for quite some time.

I took a lot of pictures, too. Andrea really outdid herself. I love how she did all of the tables and chairs. Each one was decorated with balloons and chair covers with bows except for their table which had beautiful floral bouquets (and a homemade carrot cake that I attempted to talk someone into taking out to my car when Andrea wasn’t looking).

I took pictures of Andrea’s mother, Mama Jane (the mother-in-law), her son Chris and his precious little baby girl, Camille. I met Charles’ very beautiful daughter, Kendall, who looks nothing like her father (she has hair). I snapped a picture of Karen, one of their loyal employees who has been working at Aunny’s for several years. I also took pictures of the many guests that came as Charles worked the room visiting with each table and thanking them for coming. It was a very festive night.

I overheard Charles telling someone that he was so surprised; it took about three years off of his life. “So how did she manage to get you here without telling you about your surprise party,” I asked after he finally took a seat.

“She told me my daughter Kendall was having some kind of event here and we were supposed to just come in for a minute to say hello and then leave,” he answered with a grin. “I didn’t know all this was going on.”

We had to call Charles to his table just to feed him because he was out talking to everyone. To keep the party a secret was an amazing feat just in itself: Charles is a talker and he doesn’t know any strangers. If he has no one to talk to, he’ll talk to the TV, the radio, or even food he’s preparing at Aunny’s. So I’m really impressed that no one slipped up and told him about his birthday party.

I am so glad I talked to Andrea last night since I thought the gala was for Saturday night. We were in the middle of cooking dinner when I called to verify where the party was going to be held. She said, “No, no, no. Put that away and make it for tomorrow night; the party is tonight, not tomorrow and we have plenty of food.” She wasn’t kidding either.

Andrea outdid herself with the food, as well. She had a small dinner salad served to each party-goer after which we all enjoyed Jamaican rice, mashed potatoes, roast beef and gravy, boiled shrimp, teriyaki chicken, a vegetable medley, and dinner rolls.

Following the meal, we had open mic. Everyone who wanted to speak was allowed to take the microphone and say something to Charles. I went first since I had to get back home. When I learned the party was in an hour, I left all the food, showered and then came straight to the party. I began with wishing him a happy birthday. “You married my sister from another mother,” I said, “And so, I love you, too.”

Charles is a good man. He’s definitely one of a kind. Besides helping his wife, Andrea, run their restaurant, Aunny’s, he also preaches and has a church in Salters, SC. Having said that, I was not surprised when I asked him if he had any words he’d like to say and he answered, “The glory be to God.”

I truly did feel blessed to be counted among the many friends and family who attended the event last evening. And so, my gift to him is I put together this little photo album so Charles can have some lasting memories of the time he almost had a heart attack when he arrived for his surprise birthday party.