April 26th, 2007 01:37 EST
Family And What It means To Me
It was a cold day. March 27th, 1947. Temperature had to have been 20 if not 30 degrees below the average. A young woman in her early twenties was rushed to the nearest hospital in the middle of the night. Her water broke. Hours later, her first child was brought into the world. Kenneth Joseph was to be his name after my great-great grandfather of the 18th century. He was a shy, yet stellar eight pounds and four ounces. Sixty years later and my father still has the same complexion on his face when something upsets him. Boy was he going to be in for a surprise.
It was my older sister, Tara`s idea. She approached my mother and I with the idea of having a surprise birthday party for my father on the weekend following his birthday which was on a Tuesday. The plan was to have a birthday dinner for him with the rest of the family so he would expect/suspect anything else. So everything went according to plan. The plan was to invite strictly my parents` friends. No aunts, uncles, cousins, and especially no grandparents. We wanted my Dad to feel relaxed. We wanted him to feel like he could just kick back and not get that feeling of anxiety when being around your parents. Besides, his friends all love to bust his chops anyway so they loved the idea of it being "just his boys." So the invitations were sent out, reservations were made and most importantly, the party was all paid for. My mother put me and my sister in charge of balloons; she`d be in charge of the trickery. She`d invite my Dad out to a restaurant one Friday after work and make him think it would be a romantic dinner for just the two of them. They`d bring a bottle of wine, eat dinner in the city, and enjoy life together.
And the day finally arrived. Luckily for me I was already home from college on my spring vacation. My parents were to arrive at the restaurant no later than 7:30. The clock was quickly approaching seven, and we had just picked up the balloons. Knowing we had no time to lose, we sped down the highway as if we had no time to lose. We didn`t. We arrived at exactly 7:23; I remember it specifically as that time is now tattooed on my brain. When we walked into the room where the party was, our guests who were quite the punctual ones thought we were the ones turning 60, as I could hear some cry out "Surprise!" Well, my mom wound up stalling for us in the end which means I owe an apology to the Camry I cut off while driving on the highway.
I just remember standing there on the side of the entrance in front of the thirty people we invited with a camera in my hand just waiting. Funny thing is that every so often one of the waiters would come back and check on us, and I`d quickly flinch thinking it was my parents. It wasn`t. The time finally reached 8 p.m. and my sister received a text message that read "inside." I quickly yelled to my guests to quiet down and get ready. And as my parents came through the walkway, everyone yelled "Surprise!"
Hook line and sinker.
The picture I snapped in that moment was priceless. My dad raised his hands to his balding head in excitement. Words would do injustice in attempting to explain his face. But, you bet he was surprised.
I learned a heck of a lot those few weeks of planning that surprise party. It was the first time that my father ever experienced something like that. It was also the first time that I was one of the focal points in planning something virtually for my whole family and close friends. You know it really brought my family closer together. With my sister living her own life and me being away for nine months out of the year, my family isn`t as close-knit as it once was. It made me realize how important your family is. It`s the greatest asset one can have and I wouldn`t be the person that I am today without their love and support. It sounds mushy and clich I know, but it`s the truth.
My family was in rare, candid form that night. If you don`t believe me, I have pictures to prove it