Something was "rotten in the state of Denmark". I knew my husband and Amber were cooking something up but nothing prepared me for the extent of the surprise that lay in store.
As my 60th birthday approached, many thoughts were going through my mind. I sadly recalled how my father died about that time in his life and I remember thinking he was "old". I remembered throwing a 60th party with a special cake for my mom and all her "old cronie" friends at our house in Tweed. I also thought about friends I have lost recently who did not make it to their 60th birthday, and having survived breast cancer now for 3 years, I am just damned glad to be here!!!
I had arranged to take my daughter Amber, daughter in law Nagmeh and friend Cathie to see Sound of Music in Toronto Friday night, setting up headquarters at my son Aaron's house. Little did I know that when we got back there after the play, my niece Karina had arrived from Edmonton and was upstairs hiding in order to surprise me the next night!!!!
There were clues:
- I noticed my friend Cathie cozying up with various family members for chats and there were several unusual phone calls.
- I noticed that Cathie was being very fuzzy about her return to Ottawa plans, even telling me we could discuss that before bed Saturday night!!!
- Now my husband is a great help around the house but when I came home from work last Thursday to find that he had mopped and cleaned the whole house and was busily polishing up my chandeliers "since Cathie was coming to visit" I was a bit suspicious!!!
- Then he told me we were going out to supper with our neighbours Walter and Joyce but it had to be at 5:30 and I had to dress up and I had to bring my shoes and we weren't travelling in the same car with them...... huuuummmm.
- Last summer at the final day of the CNE Arthur purchased a lovely opal and diamond ring for me, for my 60th but I was not allowed to wear it until then. That would have been on Monday but he told me I could wear it on Saturday.
- Then the final plot was that Amber was working at the golf club down the street (she hasn't worked there for two months) and we were to drop down there on the way out to supper so I could show Cathie where Amber worked.
There was a grand entrance:
So I played along and when we got there I left my purse and shoes in the car and walked into the club with Cathie. I thought there might be a few people.... but nothing prepared me for such a crowd. If you check out the following link you will see my response when I walked in the door. I was quite overwhelmed. Seemed like they got hold of my address book and invited people from all walks of my life. I was shocked that my niece had flown from Edmonton and my brother had driven up from Boston. My university room mate was there as well as a fellow from my brothers high school class all grown up!!!
I can not express how deeply touched I am by the effort so many people made to attend my party, especially all the way to Elmira in the midst of our Canadian winter. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!!!
There were more surprises:
A Wonderful Supper. We had a lovely roast beef dinner prepared by the Elmira golf club and Dairy Queen Ice Cream cake and some of us imbibbed!!!
Professional Entertainment. Amber's Bahai choir leader, Nargis Mondjazib, who sings in 15 different languages sang some beautiful songs for us.
A Nanci Multimedia Slide Show. Amber and Karina had collaborated with my brother Kevin who produced a multimedia show entitled "60 years of Nanci". Kevin had fun putting this together as a lovely gift for me and also an opportunity for him to hone skills for his Digital Media Magik enterprise. This was shown on a large screen to the accompaniment of some beautiful music that is close to my heart. The photo at the top of this article was at the beginning and end of the presentation and at the end it was a blank screen and then the photos popped up into the image, one at a time..... very creative!!!!
I must say that it is a strange experience to see nothing but oneself up on the screen and watching my life in review from childhood to teen years, marriage, my own family, funerals, joys and sorrows made me feel like I was a special guest at my own funeral!!! It was great to see living proof that most of us were skinny at one time!!!! This gift of memories made my heart overflow with gratitude for such a wonderful life.
A Video From Our Daughter Miranda. One of the sadnesses in our family has been the absence of our daughter Miranda who has been in Australia for the past 5 years. But herein was another big surprise. Miranda also made a video which was played on the big screen sending me a very loving birthday message. It was just like having her there in the room with us!!!
A Lovely Signed, Framed Photo. Another gift was a large framed photo of me in my twenties holding some bullrushes with my bleached blonde hair. For an added touch people were asked to sign their names around the matte border. What a treasure. Speaking of memory photos, here is one that got missed in the slide show. I can assure you that I was up to no good.
A Trip To London. As if there weren't enough surprises, for the coupe de gras, I was informed that a trip to London, England had been purchased by guests in lieu of "a plethora of nick knacks and purple candles!!!!" Arthur has never been to Europe and in fact we have not had very many trips away so this is such a thoughtful and fantastic gift. It comes at a time of transition in our lives and we are really looking forward to the experience. I can't wait to show him Wordsworth's grave in Westminster Abbey and the worlds best french fries!!! Perhaps we'll take in the crown jewels and I know I will have a much greater appreciation for the stained glass cathedrals than I did when I went there as a young girl on the hunt!!!
Finally I must thank my family for all the work that occurred behind the scenes to organize this event. It was a joy to NOT be the one in the organizing seat and I must say Amber has certainly picked up some of my better traits!!! I know this was a challenge for everyone and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for a surprise that made me feel surrounded by love and grateful for an amazing life, family and terrific friends. An unknow author once wrote:
A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.
Thanks dear family and friends for writing your song in my heart.
I thank everyone for their contributions towards the trip, your lovely cards and other gifts, your phone calls and presence at the party and for being such a blessing in my life. This is a party I will never forget and a memorable milestone on my way to being more thoughtful, more tender, more human. I love you all.