How do you throw a surprise party for someone who is the leader, the manager really, of the family? The one who is the planner, the one who checks in on everyone to make sure that we are all o.k. and taken care of and doing what we are supposed to be doing and where we are supposed to be and getting the help we need if we need it?
Well, you start planning in July, you tell hundreds of lies, you fly that person's sister in from Colorado two days early, and you make that person think that everyone she knows has gone completely insane. Or that she has. Either way it doesn't matter. As long as she is surprised.
And one very, very important detail - you don't tell your children who can't keep a secret even when they think they are keeping a secret because they have that telltale grin and eye roll that screams I'm keeping a secret from you.
So, other than my mom insisting on picking up my aunt, who was already in town, and her family, who would be arriving two hours earlier than my mom thought, from the airport; other than my mom wanting to go to my uncle's house two hours early to help him prepare the (she thought) small birthday dinner for our immediate family; other than one of my mom's cousins running into her at a family function a couple weeks earlier and telling her, "I'll see you at your thing in a couple of weeks," ("What's wrong with Jimmy?" she asked my uncle Kiley later, never suspecting a thing); other than Jack talking to her on the phone hours before the party and asking her if she was excited about her party (she thought he was referring to her small dinner) and my husband ripping the phone out of his hand ("All of the men in this family have gone crazy," she said to me seconds later after calling to complain about how my husband ripped the phone out of her grandson's hand while she was talking to him); other than my sister having to call me from my mom's house every 30 minutes with reports of, "Now she's on the computer saying, 'That can't be right. There isn't even a flight landing in St. Louis at the time Patti told me'; other than my mom really not wanting to celebrate her birthday at all this year, we pulled it off.
Unless she knew about it all along and just isn't telling us. She would do that because she loves us that much.
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