I’ve been lying profusely for the last 6 months. Deceit and duplicity have been my modus operandi, and it’s about killed me. Still, the end does justify the means occasionally, right? And, in this case, my siblings and I collaborated together in an effort to conceal a surprise 50th anniversary party for my parents. We felt compelled to go to confession for our sin, only we aren’t Catholic.
Since October, we’ve been consorting for this big day, hoping that our parents would remain clueless until the event. Though the official anniversary date is March 24, we planned the party for April knowing they’d never expect it. Sure enough, disappointment donned for mom as she realized that ‘alas, no one was planning a family thing.’ She was a trooper, however, and attempted to sound happy with a short trip to Victoria, Canada with the love of her life for 50 years. But, we knew better. We knew she really desired a shindig with friends and family, party favors and program, catering and cake. After all, her picture is in the dictionary under the word “party.”
So, we planned, plotted and prepared via email, text and voice over a distance of 2250 miles. Since none of us live in Olympia, Washington where my parents live, we schemed with a close friend of the family who became our liaison and partner in crime. Somehow in all the scurrying and sneaking, no one slipped the surprise occasion, which is a miracle itself.
In order to insure our parents would be at the right place at the right time, my brother-in-law faked a “repair” trip to work on some coffee machines in Olympia and asked them to meet for lunch on party day. The day before the event, I flew from Bloomington to Seattle, staying at my brother’s house an hour from party central. The morning of, we descended on the room in full force, transforming it with glittering ribbon, white tablecloths and golden balloons.
Unfortunately, the elegance of the room would be discounted by the entertainment prepared for the event. We elected to perform in typical Weston fashion, which involved a homemade skit and songs poking fun in the nicest of ways. After all, this is what we Weston’s do. An occasion of any kind is fodder for us to roast our family members like a pig over a spit. Thus, one must be thick-skinned and hard-shelled, like an army vehicle. Anyone who marries into the family must practically sign a pre-nup agreeing “to endure skits and/or songs on various momentous occasions which poke fun, laugh at or ridicule your personality.” It sounds more horrifying than it is. In my dad’s case, it usually involves mile high boxes of Kleenex razzing his sentimental weepy side during Hallmark movies or Little House on the Prairie. In my situation, it normally involves some sort of reference to my multitude of blond moments. However, our performances are produced in love, and in our sick Weston humor, we understand this.
As the clock ticked closer to the marked time, excitement grew like birds clamoring around a feeder. A few guests arrived, and then…the guests of honor arrived. Ten minutes early. Unwelcome early. And, this too is typical for mom and dad. We should have known they would arrive unfashionably early. Yet, even though most of the guests arrived after they did, they were stunned, surprised, shocked. They finally noticed me, daughter from Indiana, from more than halfway across the United States standing in front of them, and they were almost speechless. “How did you get here?” they asked.
“Plane, you know. Yesterday.” I had purposely called mom the day before, giving her my phony plans for the weekend, throwing her off track, just in case. Now, I was standing in front of my parents, thankful their hearts seemed to be healthy. Today’s surprise wasn’t going to necessitate a trip to the E.R. for heart attacks.
Mom and dad’s faces conveyed the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Their faces truly said it all…joy, smiles, love. I’m not sure that I’ve ever anticipated an event so much in my life thus far. The excitement of going to Disneyland can’t begin to compare to the anticipation of this gift of honoring my parents for 50 years of marriage they’ve worked desperately hard to grow with prayer, commitment and love. To give back to two people who have given everything to their children and grandchildren, who have left a legacy of commitment through all kinds of circumstances, was worth the months of secrecy and sneakiness. I guess you could say I lied out of love…