Fifty shades of surprise

The Wife and I have a history when it comes to birthdays.  She’s always managed to one-up me, no matter what I’ve done for her birthday.

I got a good example of that for my (I believe) 27th birthday.  I sold cameras in the Oshawa Centre at the time, and she sent in, over the span of hours, first flowers, then a candy bouquet thingie, then a clown came in and sang happy birthday to me.  Actually that one, though a little embarrassing, was kind of cute as she also brought her three-year-old daughter, also dressed up as a clown, along with her.

After the clown, my boss came over to me and, looking a little nervous, but also a little expectant, said, “She isn’t going to send in a stripper next, is she?” She didn’t.

Now, I’d done some embarrassing things to her the previous February when she turned 23, so she kind of owed me.  Anyway, long story short, she picked me up to drive me home to get changed before we went out to dinner.  All the way home, she bugged me that we were even now.  I’d done stuff to get her, she’d done stuff to get me.  I kept insisting that I was still the clear victor here.  My stuff had been better than some clowns and candy.

Long story short, I refused to admit we were even.  Then we came around the last corner and I saw the front lawn of my house.  There was a big friggin’ sign out front that said something like, “Okay, NOW we’re even!” and then wished me a happy birthday.

I’m not even kidding.

The next big thing was for my first milestone birthday with the Wife.  I turned 30 on Oct 6, 1992.  Two days later, she told me she was pregnant with our first child.  Now, of all of the birthday gifts, this one wasn’t planned as such, but still, it was a damn good one.

Ten years ago, as I was turning 40, we headed over to the Wife’s sister and husband.  It was billed as just a nice afternoon barbeque hanging out in the backyard.  We got there, dropped our chairs, then my brother-in-law, Mike, said something about showing me some cool new gardening implement (insert big yawn here), but I dutifully followed him…

…right into a group of my closest friends. She’d organized a 40th birthday party a couple of months early, so of course I wasn’t expecting it.

Now, here we are three weeks before I turn 50 and a lot is going on.  And please, no “50 Shades of Grey Hair” jokes.

My mother has severe osteoporosis and has spent the last four months in hospitals and extended care for physio and rehab. She was released just over a week ago. Last Friday, she had a small stroke, and the hospital, in their infinite wisdom, saw fit to send her home less than twelve hours later.  Then, even though she was using her walker, she experienced a weak moment, fell, hit her head and broke her wrist in two places.  Now she’s back in the hospital, then on to extended care again, and likely a nursing home after that.

So it’s going to be a rough couple of months.

The full weight of that came down on me last night as I discussed all the various moving pieces coming up and pending dates.  Then, out of nowhere, the Wife looked at me, said, “I’ve got to go ask the kids something.”  I stood up, but she said, “No, stay here.”

I’ll be honest, I was a little irritated that she just up and left in the middle of a serious conversation.

A couple of minutes later, she had me sit down between the Boy and the Girl on the couch and she said something about how they were going to wait a couple of weeks for this, but it looked like I needed some good news.  With that, she handed over a folded set of papers and said, “Happy Birthday, honey.”

I opened the pages, expecting maybe tickets for a concert or something.  To be honest, I didn’t have a freaking clue what to expect.

Then I saw something about a cruise.  “We’re going on a cruise?” I said, shocked.  Then she handed me a colour brochure and told me this was the ship we were on.  I was shocked, stunned, dazed…you name it.  It was only as I folded the pages back up to hand to her that I saw something that made me stop.  I saw the word Greece.

I opened the papers back up and that’s when I realized this was a Mediterranean cruise.  Holy crap!

That’s when she told me she’d actually booked it in February and had been scrimping and saving for the past few months to pay it off and have some money…because, you know, we’re not rich.

Anyway, turns out my boss in Montreal, and his boss in Burnaby have known about this all along.  It’s also why she was subtly pushing me to get my Hep shots.

So, for my 50th, the Wife gave me a Mediterranean cruise.

Possibly the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me.  And she knew the exact right time to let me know.  It brought a lot of light into a dark day.

And this is why I love the Wife.