This past Friday, my old man turned 50, and my siblings and I gave him the surprise of his life.
About two weeks ago, my sister called me up and said, "If I were to fly you out for Dad's surprise party, would you be able to come?" I'm never one to pass up a free trip to surprise dear old Dad, so we bought tickets right then and there. My sister (who is a marvel of organization -- does anyone need a personal planner?) put together a dinner on Friday night at which all six kids would attend (Dad was only expecting three) and a party on Saturday night which would be attended by close to 70 people. Things were made somewhat easier by the fact that Dad is completely oblivious to preparations being carried out under his nose. Elizabeth cleaned the house, ordered a cake, called my brothers and me to check schedules, and strategized with my two youngest siblings, all without awakening any suspicion.
Friday evening my brothers John and Will drove down from the Pontifical College Josephinum, and we converged at dad's house and snuck in the back door. Then Elizabeth called upstairs, "Dad, there's a visitor here for your birthday!" and carried Isabel upstairs. Dad was absolutely stunned, and when he came downstairs, there we all were to sing Happy Birthday. A delightful dinner followed, with much laughing, singing, and passing around of the baby. (There's always lots of singing with my siblings -- my brothers can play almost any instrument they put their hands on, and my youngest sister is gifted with a Broadway-caliber voice.)
Saturday the real preparations began. People were slated to arrive at 6:45, and we weren't exactly sure how to spring them on Dad. Serendipity happened -- my youngest brother Nathanael left his track bag at the high school that hosted his track meet that morning. so Dad ran him out there to pick it up. While they were away, a crowd converged on the house and set up all the food and decorations, so that when Dad returned everyone was perfectly situated to yell "Surprise!" Once again he was completely caught off-guard. Dad doesn't like to be the center of attention, so he sat red-earred through a little roast we gave him. Many old friends showed up, and I even got to meet long-time commenter Barbfromcincy (Hi, Barb!). Everyone admired the baby (of course) and she was beautifully behaved and even smiled at a few lucky mortals.
Then Sunday I ran into more old friends both at church (there was an excellent sermon, and I was able to listen to the whole thing) and then later on with my mom at a bridal shower for a lovely young girl whom I used to babysit. They grow up so fast... (And to anyone to whom I mentioned that I was going to Stephenie's baby shower, I meant BRIDAL shower. Babies are much on my mind, naturally, and baby shower rolls off my tongue much more easily than bridal shower. But I meant BRIDAL shower, so no one get the wrong idea here.)
It was a wonderful trip, all in all. I've been dying to blog about it for the last two weeks, but I didn't want to ruin the element of surprise since Dad reads the blog (hi, Dad!). I really enjoy going up to Cincinnati -- I love the old place better than it probably deserves. And the houses have character! I suggested to Dad that we trade houses -- he'd get a maintenance-free domicile, and I'd get molding. For some reason he passed on that, but never fear: I took drawings of the molding around the doors and windows, and I'm considering reproducing it here at our house. Then if only I had wood floors and plaster walls and a massive piano that weighs a ton (of which the piano movers said, after much profanity, that we should sell the piano with the house instead of moving it again), I'd think I was back in the old homestead.
So, everyone take this chance to wish Dad a happy 50th, and to say a prayer for a fine model of Christian humility and gentleness.