When I got home the red light on the answering machine was blinking, two messages were waiting. I pushed the “play” button.
“Hello Esmeralda, it’s Adele,” the message said before the machine cut her off.
“Esmeralda, it’s Adele, call,” and the machine cut her off again.
“This answering machine has become so erratic,” I said, turning to my husband. “I have to send an email, then I’ll call Adele back.
When I went on line, there was an email from Adele waiting for me.
“Hello, Esmeralda!” it said.
“Lynn suggested a great idea that we are trying to organize, and that is to have a surprise birthday party for Robert. We’ve read in your blog that it was his birthday (very moving and beautiful entry, by the way). So, we’ve rounded up people to see if they are available and most are. The question is: IS ROBERT AVAILABLE? Our thoughts were to surprise him. We would take the boys to lunch at GASHO on Route 9a in Hawthorne (since he’s already been to the Outback for his birthday) and then to a movie. Lynn and I are willing to do the driving, etc. so the only thing we would need from you is to help us outwit Robert (we would like to surprise him) by letting us know his plans and then telling him I’ve asked him to lunch and a movie in honor of his birthday, or some such thing. Lynn has offered to have cake for the boys after the movie at her house, to which I hope you would come as well.
I’m hoping he is indeed available. Sorry for the short notice but we just had this brainstorm after reading your blog.”
Let me know!
“Come and read this,” I called out to my husband. “Isn’t this amazing? Isn’t it wonderful?”
I was so excited for Robert that I could hardly stay in my seat. And I was deeply moved by this spontaneous act of kindness, of goodness, of generosity, that even though I was happy, I cried (daily occurrence I’m afraid.)
Robert’s birthday a few days earlier had been quiet, subdued. All of us painfully aware of Andrew’s absence. Last year for Robert’s birthday, (to my horror, I admit) Andrew had given his younger brother a motorbike’s helmet, with the promise, “If Mummy agrees,” he had said, to take him for rides in the summer. And he had, and Robert had loved everyone of them. Only the day before I had found Robert sitting in his room, wearing the helmet that Andrew had given him. My heart had contracted.
This offer of a surprise birthday party seemed like manna from heaven; as soon as I steadied myself, I called Adele and after I don’t know how many thank yous and wows from my part, we got down to strategy.
“Did you know that Robert has been bugging Scott (Adele’s older son and Nate’s older brother) to take him and Nate to Chicken Joe’s?”
“Yes, I heard.”
“When he comes home from school, I ‘ll tell him that you called to say that Scott would take him and Nate to Chicken Joe’s as a birthday treat.”
After agreeing on the pick up time, Adele asked me if I was free to join for the lunch since she, Lynn and some of the mothers who had offered to drive the children to the restaurant, were staying on.
“And if you want to see Robert’s face when he arrives,” Adele said. ” I’ll tell Scott him to make a couple of detours after he picks Robert up, so that you can get to the restaurant before they do.”
Absolutely, I agreed. I have to tell you that I was so excited for Robert that I couldn’t way for Saturday to come.
The plan worked without a hitch, Robert had no idea of the surprise in store for him.
In the end, to make sure that I got to the restaurant before he did, I said that I was going shopping and left the house before Robert. When I got there the car park was virtually empty, and my white mini with the ANDREW20 number plate would have given the game away, so I ended up parking at the top with the garbage. The car was completely hidden.
The surprise and joy on Robert’s face when he walked into the restaurant to see some twelve of his friends springing out from under the table to sing (shout) Happy Birthday Robert, was balm to my heart as I am sure it was to Robert’s. And since I am sure that Andrew was watching, it must have been balm to his astral heart as well. Hugh and Florentina were very happy too when I recounted every detail and showed them the pictures.
“By the way,” I asked Scott. “What did Robert say when you drove into Gasho?”
“Oh, I told him that I was going for a quick job interview.”
“And you believed him?” I laughed, turning to Robert.
“I thought it was a bit strange, but yes, I believed him.”
After the restaurant, and the movie, the day ended at Lynn’s house with more food for the children, drinks for the grown ups, which this time included some of the husbands and a delicious birthday cake.
Well, when I say that the day ended, I mean for us, because the party continued on at Adele’s house where they had a sleep-over. We didn’t see Robert until two o’clock in the afternoon the following day, when he came home to do his homework; before rushing out again to a Super Bowl party at a friend’s house.
Wow, what a week-end.
I’ve said thank you to Lynn and Adele and the mothers who helped with the driving, but this is one of those occasions when thank you doesn’t even BEGIN to say thank you.
Lynn, Adele and the rest of the party, you gave Robert a joy filled week-end, you gave him plenty of opportunities to genuinely smile. You displayed the best of human qualities, selfless generosity, kindness and love. In Hindu fashion, I bow my head to you in gratitude.