cronechronicler

Exploring the poetry of everyday life

Eighty Candles

Way back in the early summer my sister Sally from North Carolina asked my sons how they were planning to celebrate my eightieth birthday in December. And the seed was planted. And the roots branched out. Fred was a substitute teacher with one of my friends from church. He asked her for names of people to invite. My son Bob contacted a friend of mine in the Greenbriar Apartment building where I live who supplied him with more names. My sons asked my sister who had given them the idea to drive to Cleveland for the big surprise. She and my brother-in-law Tom planned to give my other sister Brooke, also from North Carolina, a ride with them. My son Donovan who lives in Minneapolis arranged to fly here with his wife and two children. In the middle of summer I remember that my son Fred tossed out the idea that we really should plan something special for my big 80 but nothing else was said. I had no clue of the blossoming plans.

A couple of weeks before my birthday my son Bob called and asked me to save the date. He said he would pick me up around 3 PM and I should wear nice clothes. Well, that tipped me off that something out of the ordinary was going on. He and his family have me over to gatherings often and never mention what to wear. I thought maybe they planned to have a photographer take family photos. A week before my birthday my son Fred invited me out to lunch. He told me he would pick me up around 1 PM and that Bob would join us. We had a lovely lunch at a favorite deli of mine. It was special to be with my sons without the rest of our family. I loved just listening to them discuss various aspects of their lives and work. I enjoy being with the men they have become. Then Bob excused himself and went off to complete a work project. I thought this was a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday.

Fred said he needed to stop at the grocery on the way to drop me off at my apartment after lunch. I needed a few things, too. After we finished our shopping Fred asked me about the possibility of renting the Greenbriar Party Room for a block party with some neighbors. He said he’d like to take a look at it. I agreed.

To back up a little. When I was pondering why Bob wanted me to dress up and be at his house by 3 PM on the day of my birthday I imagined a surprise visit from Donovan. Yet when Donovan called me that morning to wish me happy birthday I realized I got that wrong. Donovan often calls me on his way to work in Minneapolis so he couldn’t be in Cleveland. My sister Brooke also called me in the morning to say happy birthday.

Meanwhile Fred and I arrived at the Greenbriar. We stopped off at my apartment so I could put my groceries away before I showed him the Party Room. Then we took the elevator to the fifth floor and walked up the stairs to the Party Room. I noticed that there were quite a few people up there. I realized they were my friends from the Greenbriar and from church! They all stood up and shouted “SURPRISE!” I couldn’t take it in. I was truly flabbergasted. The surprises kept coming. From out of the crowd I saw Donovan walking toward me. But he was in Minneapolis! His wife Rama and children Kieran and Leela were right behind him. Then I saw my sister Sally, and Tom her husband! And there was Brooke! But I had talked to her in North Carolina that morning. Turns out the out-of-towners had arrived in Cleveland the night before – I just assumed they were at home. And my son Bob was not at home working on a project. He was here helping his wife Linda set out the birthday cake and refreshments. Fred was right beside me. My former husband Bob, who lives down the street from my apartment, was there to celebrate also. Now I know what people mean when they say “I could not believe my eyes!!” More than that there are no words to express the love I felt bubbling up and overflowing all around me. Who needs champagne?!!

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