Accidental photobomb of 99-year-old

Posted 5/6/18

Family gatherings are always a mixture of stress and fun. The stress is usually for the person hosting the event,

while the attendees have all the fun. Planning, cleaning, cooking and being …

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Accidental photobomb of 99-year-old


Family gatherings are always a mixture of stress and fun.

The stress is usually for the person hosting the event, while the attendees have all the fun. Planning, cleaning, cooking and being hospitable can overload a person sometimes.

Stress can also come from the thought of certain conversations that might pop up, such as conversations regarding religion and politics. We all have our own personal beliefs on “What Would Jesus Do?” and how we “Make America Great Again,” so those topics should be off limits. Unfortunately, we all have “that relative” who will bring them up, probably just to see how hard everyone can bite their tongues.

On some occasions, not knowing anyone, even when it is a family gathering, can be stressful. That is the situation I found myself in last Sunday.

A couple of weeks before, Andrea mentioned to me that her great aunt was going to be having a birthday party to celebrate her 99th birthday. I don’t remember ever meeting this particular great aunt, but going to the party seemed important to Andrea, so we put it on our schedule.

The party was held at a church in Pleasant Grove. As I suspected, I didn’t recognize anyone as we entered the building. The only people I knew were my immediate family (The Phillips 7) and my in-laws. Not knowing people at an event isn’t a big deal for me, because the nature of our businesses allows me to meet new people on an almost daily basis. What became stressful in this particular situation is that I ended up front and center at this lady’s birthday party.

After a few minutes of standing around awkwardly, our bunch of nine folks walked our way over to the birthday gal. Mrs. Evelyn Hicks was sitting in a chair so guest could come greet her and get a photograph taken with her. Our group was placed around her after only a few moments to capture us all in a picture. I had not even had the chance to be introduced to Aunt Evelyn before I found myself behind her chair, smiling like the Cheshire Cat, waiting for the photograph to be taken.

As we are all smiling, a familiar sound started up. The folks heading up the party suddenly burst into singing “Happy Birthday.” A few lines were sung and then it stopped, but only for a few moments. The song started back, and this time it was more than a song. A huge cake and a ton of people were heading right for us. I remained trapped behind the chair while other members of my family were able to bolt from each side.

I had never met this sweet lady, and I couldn’t even remember her name while I’m singing about her birthday, but my big ol’ yellow shirt-wearing self was front and center in every picture that was taken.

When she looks through the photos, I’m sure she’s going to be asking who I am. I always like to make an impact when I meet people. I guess I did that day.

I did not set out to photobomb a nearly 100-year-old lady on that fateful Sunday afternoon, but it happened. Our family has gotten a big laugh every time one of us thinks about me standing behind that chair, smiling but fearful because I was trapped there for a few moments.

That kind of stuff seems to happen to me all the time. I almost always find myself in the wrong place at the right time for a memorable moment. Hope it gave you a good laugh as well.


James Phillips is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He may be reached at 205-221-2840 or