The year 2020 will go down in history as one strange string of 365 days.

This past weekend we celebrated by mother’s 90th birthday with a parade … since we still can’t touch.

As you may recall, we did the same thing back in June for my father, a couple of months after nursing homes began operating under strict COVID-19 restrictions.

Ironically, the two parades were similar in many ways, but also a whole lot different.

In both cases, my parents received boatloads of birthday cards in advance of their respective parades.

In both cases, they were surprised.

With my dad, the parade ran through the parking lot at Eden Hill Communities in New Braunfels. There were few cars in the parking lot at that time and we easily assembled across the street, and then drove past the downstairs window where he was sitting with my mom.

After my dad’s celebration, all family members gathered around for a group picture. All of us were outside. Mom and dad were inside.’

We didn’t take a group picture Saturday to ensure nobody got near my parents.

We arranged for my mom and dad to take a trip together in one of the Eden Hill vehicles. This was a day or so after quarantine ended due to an employee (in another unit) getting COVID-19.

We got lucky.

This time the parade was set up at their church. My father told my mother he arranged a trip for her birthday, and she was very happy about that … and had no clue what was really planned.

As they started their trip, she asked the driver, “I haven’t been to my church in so long. Is there any way we can drive by it?”

My dad noted later he and the driver almost busted out laughing, because that’s exactly where they were going!

When they got to the church, every car was lined up, three wide, 10+ deep, with most people standing outside their vehicles.

We were under the assumption my parents would remain in the van for the duration, but the driver let them out.

It just seemed right for them to be positioned at the front door of their church. Mom was in her wheelchair, and dad sat on his walker.

The crowd sang happy birthday, the pace cars revved up their engines, and the parade began.

It was great seeing my mom so emotional, but hard not to go up and give her and dad a big ol’ hug.

That’s what the Probst family does.

It’s been a long time since I’ve touched my parents. I can only imagine how it must feel for them not being able to touch their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

We all know it’s in my parents’ best interests, but that doesn’t make it easy.

In my column after my father’s June birthday parade, I closed with:

“We are just hoping all this COVID-19 stuff is behind us when my mother turns 90 in November.”

Well, that didn’t quite turn out.

In the grand scheme of things, however, I/we are incredibly blessed to have been able to celebrate each of their 90th birthdays in this manner, and can talk on the phone any time we want (not after 7 p.m. for cheaper rates like they did with their parents).

Happy birthday mom … any many more!

One more thing

about new car

I don’t think I’ve ever put more than a 1,000 miles on a new car in the first week, but that’s exactly what I did. A trip to Austin, Corpus Christi, and New Braunfels, on top of the usual running around, allowed me to hit that mark.

A big benefit from all that driving is I’m now more or less used to all the safety gadgets in the car, including the “stay in your lane mister” notices, and automatic braking while using cruise control.

My favorite things, so far, are the two warnings I see quite often flashing across the dash. One reads, “Steering required” and another one says, “Driver needs a break.”

I haven’t quite figured out the “steering required” warning, and I haven’t needed a break, regardless of what the smart dashboard tells me.

The “Driver needs a break” warning started soon after I started driving my new wheels. I figure it must go off after hitting lane striping about 50 times.

I have yet to read the owner’s manual, but plan to do so Thanksgiving Day. Yeah, right.

Until next week, have a good week.

Mike Probst can be reached at

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