By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, June 8, 2007
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]
HAMPTON -- A group of Hampton Seniors heartily celebrated one of their own last week, when "Marvelous Mona" Otis turned 90 years of age.
A surprise birthday party was planned for the spry nonagenarian, who almost missed her own celebration held just prior to the weekly Bingo session at the Lane Memorial Library.
The reason was all about family ties.
"I wasn’t going to come because my daughter (Joanne Mellin) was visiting" from Colchester, Vermont, explained Mona, a twinkle in her eyes.
"She wasn’t going to come!" exclaimed Florence Bellafatto. "We had a hard time getting her here."
"We got panicky [when] we heard she wasn’t coming," added Rosanna Wright.
So, in order to be sure the guest of honor was there to enjoy her own celebration, "they had to tell me it was a surprise party," Mona revealed.
Fortunately, that revelation did not spoil the festivities in the library’s Dorothy Little Room one little bit.
Mona’s fellow Seniors had chipped in and brought a smorgasbord of goodies for all to enjoy, and the Hampton Recreation Department supplied the birthday cake.
Cutting the cake with assistance provided by Hampton Rec Director, Dyana Martin, Mona took a moment to "thank everybody here for such a nice party. I really appreciate it."
A few moments later, as the birthday girl was dutifully washing white frosting off the cake knives at the sink, Hampton Seniors President Jeanine St. Germain called out, "Mona! It’s your birthday! Leave that there!"
She obliged, wiping her hands and taking a seat at her table, which had upon it birthday greetings, flowers, a stuffed Teddy bear, and Bingo cards waiting to be stamped. Her daughter joined her, and the two smiled for photographs capturing the joy of the occasion.
"She’s the best mother I could have ever had," said Joanne. "Her sense of humor, wit and spirit are an inspiration to me and my whole family."
Mona’s peers readily expressed similar sentiments.
"She’s just one wonderful person, I’ll tell you that!" said Florence Smith. "She’s one of the best."
"Marvelous Mona — she is the most wonderful lady," said Jeanine. "The Seniors are very happy to have her. She’s an asset to the community."
She listed a number of contributions Mona has made over the years, including teaching crafts, doing the driving if someone needed a ride, and giving Bridge instructions.
"I would not have so much fun playing Bridge if it weren’t for you, sweetheart," she told Mona.
"She’s a wonderful person," said Lois Standen. "I hope I live to be her age."
"They’re such nice friends," said Mona, who also counts among her biggest fans her family members, including Joanne’s siblings Nancy Gosselin of Berwick and son Tony Otis of Westbrook, Maine. There’s also three grandchildren (Tracy and Lori Stubbs and Pam Gleason) and three great-grandchildren.
"They will be feting me on Sunday," said Mona, regarding the party that would be held at Tracy’s North Hampton home on Mona’s actual birthday, June 3. "The whole family will be there."
Mona added that the last time there was such a large family gathering was in 1993 at the funeral of her late husband, Col. Donald Otis, USMC. The occasion of her 90th birthday celebration was decidedly a happier reason to get together.
A member of the Hampton Senior Citizens Club since around the 1980s — "I thought they were too old for me [at first]," she says — Mona observed that she has "had a good life. I kept busy [and] I enjoyed every minute of it."
"I hope she’ll be around for the another 90 years," noted Theresa Perry.
That doesn’t appear to be a problem for 'Marvelous Mona'.
"I intend to hang around a lot longer," she grinned, "if for no other reason than there’s still a lot of other people I’d like to annoy!"