When Laura Belle Mumma was asked to speak a few words at her 98th birthday party, she asked, "May I say more than a few?" After her fellow residents of Arbor Terrace of Tucker chuckled, Mumma related a story about her granddaughter, who had gone to a birthday party where they served pizza instead of birthday cake.
"It sounded like she had fun," Mumma said, "but I'm pretty set in my ways and I can't imagine a birthday party without cake and ice cream."
But that doesn't mean she never spreads her wings a little when it comes to partying. At her request, Flying Feathers, an ensemble of exotic birds owned by Bob Krummel and Charlene Adams of Lilburn, entertained her guests.
Flying Feathers evolved from the single cockatiel Krummel had when he and Adams married in 2002.
"We never set out to do this, but when the economy went bad, we saw how people had to give up their exotic pets. Some had to move into apartments where pets were not allowed and they had to find good homes for them. We just started collecting them and it became a passion," Adams said. "As we acquired more birds, we did research on them and started to do bird shows that are both entertaining and educational."
Mumma was all smiles with Marilyn, an umbrella cockatoo, perched on her shoulder, as Krummel in his pirate costume let the other six birds strut their stuff.
Not wanting to interrupt the party girl, I asked Activities Assistant Hoden Mussa if Mumma had any particular passion for birds.
"Not that we know of," she said. "When she first came here four years ago, she asked how she could be helpful and started doing our floral arrangement and feeding the birds in our lobby, but she never said anything about any special attraction for birds."
I asked Mumma's daughter, Dr. Paula Reeves, the same question and discovered that Mumma just has a passion for life, period.
Her husband was in the Air Force and they traveled all over the world. After he retired, she spent over 30 years volunteering at the hospital at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.
"She learned computers when she was 84 and worked there until she was 92," Reeves said.
At 94, when she needed some assistance in her daily life, she moved to Arbor Terrace where she could be near Reeves, who has a psychiatric practice here.
When the Flying Feathers concluded their act, I finally was able to ask Mumma why she requested the birds for her birthday.
"When I moved here I didn't have any friends. The birds came last year for a show and as soon as Marilyn was let out of her cage, she flew right to me and sat on my arm for the entire hour. She became my friend. So when I planned my party, I wanted to be sure my friend Marilyn was here to celebrate with me."
Flying Feathers is open to forming friendships anywhere. For more information, call 678-499-6261
Susan Larson is a writer who lives in Lilburn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.