88 on 8-8-08: Family pays tribute

 Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
Lola Borghese Brunetto, center, gets choked up as her relatives and friends give a toast in her honor at her 88th birthday party.

The Chinese believe the number 8 signifies prosperity, so it was only fitting the opening day on the Olympic ceremonies in Beijing took place on 8-8-08.

On that day, half a world away in Eastmoor, dozens of people were celebrating an event that was equally as dear to them, the birthday of a beloved relative.

"Originally we invited 88 people, but I think there are a lot more people coming anyway," Landa Masdea Brunetto said.

Masdea Brunetto is the daughter-in-law of Lola Borghese Brunetto, who celebrated her 88th birthday on that Friday in style. Magic 8 Balls were the centerpieces at the tables; Crazy 8’s was the game of choice, and there was a champagne toast in her honor at 8:08 p.m.

"I was just overwhelmed with everything that they planned," Lola Brunetto said. "At first I was hoping they would not do anything this year, but they wore me down until I said ‘OK, go ahead.’"

Brunetto’s five children, as well as their spouses, had 8-8-08 marked for a possible birthday party for a year, but it was not until recently they finally started putting their plans into action.

"It has been one big family effort, but it has also been kind of a healing process for us," Vicky Brunetto said. "It wasn’t just put on to celebrate the birthday of our mother, but it was also to celebrate our brother’s life."

After battling colon cancer for three years, Brunetto’s oldest son Joe succumbed to the illness in March of this year.

"Joe was always going around and fixing things and he knew that Vicky and mom always wanted a beautiful patio to sit on," said Landa, who is married to Joe’s twin brother Rick. "He was really diligent on getting work done on the house, and he really wanted to get the patio going and done with.

"I think he knew he didn’t have a lot of time left, but he really wanted to see his mother get this wonderful patio built before her birthday."

Sadly, he did not, but Lola Brunetto said he would be pleased with the results.

"He knew how anxious I was to have a nice patio, and he helped make it happen, God bless him."

"I think the decision to have this party was a wonderful idea," Rick Brunetto said. "It was so nice to have all of our friends and family here to celebrate mom’s 88th, and to also pay tribute to Joe because he couldn’t be here with us."

As for presents, Lola said she did not request any because her family is the best thing she has in her life.

"I am blessed to have such a wonderful family who does such wonderful things for me."

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