And the story goes ...
There is no great feeling of peace, joy and hope than being surrounded by loving family and friends and being tangibly shown that love and care.
People were so good to me.
There was no time to feel down about my aging issues, about `that`word.
They all surrounded me, enveloped me so that it was impossible to think of nothing but the precious care I had received.
Every one of the things that happened was a complete and utter surprise. 110%.
In Newfoundland, the Monday before, many of my friends were gathered for an ``Ugly Stick`` making workshop that I had organized. At the end, they hijacked it and turned it into a birthday party, compete with cake, balloons and gifts. I was taken completely off guard. I am not comfortable with being the centre of attention, but it was fun and it was sweet of them.
When I arrived home the night before my birthday, I was shocked, speechless - moved to tears with the unbelievable thing that my dear and close friends had done for me.
They `While You Were Out`- ed me and totally transformed my sad, pathetic gardens ... or lack of ... into gorgeous landscaping. Oh my - it should have been a TV show - it was so dramatic.
They mixed load after load of beautiful, rich soil. The gracefully edged lines would have been enough to send me oveer the moon. On top of that, they brough in beautiful plants - hydrangea, lavendar, begonias, hostas ... and rocks! AndI DO LOVE rocks! They even have a lovely, elegant statue of a woman reading.
Three of the five of them were present to witness my utter shock and joy.
I am still not over it. I still walk around my home every day and can`t believe it is MY home. I cannot believe that anyone would do that for someone else - the time, the expense, the energy. Yes, it is the energy that I can feel - the care and joy, the happiness, the love that they put into the entire circumference of our home. I am surrounded by it. I can feel it and see it. It totally moves and overwhelms me.
I was up with the sun, sitting in shock and awe, when my sweet sister arrived - shortly after 6 am, with a Tim's ... what has become a birthday tradition between us.
Minutes after she left, some of the girls came back with breakfast - and it was still not even 8:30 am. They also brought another big, beautiful hydrangea which they proceeded to plant.
And then, as if that were not enough to make my entrance into this new decade memorable, my dear sweet family pulled off yet another surprise. Another 110% total shock.
The plan was that my three girls were taking me to the theatre on the evening of my birthday. Totally believable and enjoyable.
Instead, when Ashley and I pulled up to Jaime and Nick`s house, there was a major party going on. It took a minute to get it into my head that it was for ME. I would have preferred to go off and weep somewhere, for the sheer emotion of the fact that they would do that for me. Again, all the work, the effort, the energy, the expense, the thought - the love.
It was as impressive as a wedding - a fancy tent, lovely decor, a live band, a fully stocked bar with cocktails, beautifully displayed, delicous food, vygnettes, plants, lights, a dance area - the details! I have done three weddings at home and know full well that it is no small task.
I must admit, my inner reaction when I looked around at all the finely executed details was one of pride and comfort, with the thought `They will be FINE when I`m not around.
I know the work that they did in the planning and preparation, and it will forever fill my heart with overwhelming emotion. My precious family. I can still cry about it.
And friends that came. Dozens of them. When I revisit the evening, I am still surprised and delighted to see their faces.
I was filled to the brim and overflowing. I felt the treasured embrace of my friends and my family.
I am forever left with the confirmation that life is quite simply, all about the joy and love that we can share with each other.