I think I am a difficult person to surprise. Correction: I thought I was a difficult person to surprise. Because the other evening, much to my wide-eyed delight, I was thrown a completely unexpected going away surprise party.
I thought I was going to my Grandma’s for dinner with my sister, cousin, and cousin’s girlfriend.
I chat away non-stop during the car ride, my sister being acutely patient with me, continually nodding her head to my rambling stories. I figure either I was finally becoming a decent verbal story teller or she was really concentrating on the heavy rain pelting the windshield. My sis pulls the left into Big G’s street and I comment out loud on the number of cars on the street. One of the neighbours must be having a party, I think. We turn into the driveway. As my sibling runs out into the rain to knock on the front door, I mischievously wait in the car so I don’t get wet. As soon as the front door opens, I also dash inside, greeting my cousin’s girlfriend and apologizing for being late. I take off my shoes in the front hall as normal, and the new black lab pup comes to greet me. I give him a few love pats, but then my cell phone rings. Conscious of the time, and the fact that I haven’t said hello to my Grandma yet, I ignore the call.
I walk down the hallway carpet that is as familiar to me as my bedroom, past the closest that holds old coats as well as those in use, past the cupboard that held the board games and nursery story books I sought as a child, and I continue to walk right past the few steps leading to the living room. I don’t even look at the steps. The new pup is lying down at the end of the hallway, and I walk to give him a few more love pats, because, really, he is just that cute! Thinking my Grandma will now really begin wondering what is taking her Wanda so long to greet her, I turn myself towards the stairs.
My right knee drops to one of the stairs. I clasp my hands together and hold them to my chest.
Whose face did I see first? I don’t know. My mom? My uncle? Those of my very best friends? Of people who have supported me my entire life?
What I saw was a room full of the people who are most dear to me. Although a few key members were not able to attend, their presence was there. And I felt extremely fortunate and loved and surprised.
Overwhelmed by how wonderful it was, I managed to greet everyone and share my enjoyment of the surprise. Of course, once I made it up the short staircase I went over to my Grandma to say hello. Complimenting how beautiful she looked, she responded, “Don’t I always?” It was going to be a good night.
My mom gave a toast during the party. She said it was appropriate to have my bon voyage party in my Grandma’s house because that house has been the location of so many parties and important events. So very true. As my mom spoke, my Grandma sat in my late Papa’s armchair, engaged and listening. My friends and family, some of whom have never met before, were sitting and standing together, round the focal point of Mrs. B – a living room filled with people connected together because of me and this ingenious surprise party.
The image is imprinted in my mind and it brings me great comfort to know I am taking it with me on my adventure.