Brenda Miller, her sisters, Lorraine and Frances, their husbands and children and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren gather each year at a local restaurant to celebrate the family’s patriarch. This year would have been no different but for the arrival of COVID-19 and the closure of all in-dining restaurants. It’s a special year for Lee Randolph Beale; he will be 99 years old May 25. Not having a chance to go out for their annual dinner and not being allowed to gather 10 or more, Brenda and her husband Eddie planned a surprise drive-by parade of family members at their home where Beale lives.
The birthday banner was in place, and the Millers had Beale on the front lawn enjoying the sunny Sunday afternoon. But when the 12-car caravan began its parade on the cul-de-sac road with horns blaring and the little ones and older ones shouting from their windows you could see tears welling up in his eyes. Their neighbors, the Kings, also showed up, adding a Happy Birthday banner to their front lawn.
“This is a surprise,” he said. “A real surprise.”
At 99, Beale still enjoys some independence. He still drives. Before the lockdown he swam and walked laps twice a week at Midlothian Athletic Club and played golf every Tuesday. He says he eats a good breakfast every morning, and while not going out for his exercises, he does 10 reps each for his legs and arms and 18 swings of a golf club. His hobby is coloring books with fine-ink pens. He said he likes to color and that keeps him from taking too many naps. “I do that to stay awake,” he laughed. “If I color, I won’t fall asleep. I bet I have completed 300 coloring books.”
The family still hopes to get together for their annual family vacation at Nags Head this summer. Beale has three children, six grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.