Surprise Party for the Big 5-0 by Sharon Johnson O’Donnell
On May 13th, I’ll turn 50 years old — but it won’t be until the end of the night, around 11:30, so really if I go to bed before then, I can be 49 for another day officially, right?
Anyway, I’m not feeling any different, no feeling of dread — I think 45 hit me harder for some reason. I’d told my husband I didn’t need a party or anything like that. He didn’t want one when he turned 50, and I knew with his being so frugal, he’d rather save the money than have a party for himself. A few days before my birthday, I went out to a local department store and got some summer
pants and shirts, and I told my husband that I’d already bought his presents to me. It is a lot easier than him going out to find something and then me probably having to return it. And things have been so incredibly busy with my middle son’s prom, his senior baseball season, his impending graduation, his 18th birthday, my oldest son finishing his junior year in college and getting an apartment, Mother’s Day, etc., etc. that trying to fit in another event just seemed too exhausting.
But this year, he pulled one over on me. About a month and a half ago, my oldest son sent me an email, saying that his fraternity was going to have a dinner for parents of the frat members who had a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or over. It was to be May 11th. I put it on the calendar immediately because I wanted to make sure we didn’t have any conflicts; my husband and I had focused mostly on our middle son recently, and I felt that our oldest son definitely deserved our attention that night. As it turned out, our middle son had his end-of-the-year baseball dinner that same night, but I told him he could go to that, while my husband and I attended our oldest son’s academic event. It was to be held in a restaurant downtown, and an executive from Bank of America would be speaking. A week or so ago, my oldest son sent me an email asking if I’d prefer the chicken or the steak for dinner because he had to turn it in for the menu.
When the 11th finally arrived, I took my youngest son, Jason, who was tracked out of school, to a local museum and then to the batting cages. Then when I got home, my middle son, David, and I went on-line to fill out some forms he needed for his college orientation next month. I knew it was getting late, so I finally went upstairs to get ready for the academic dinner. I called my oldest son to ask what the attire was for that night, and he said ‘business casual’ — which is great for guys who can just throw on khakis and a button-down shirt but horrible for women who aren’t really in the business world anymore and their wardrobe reflects that. I had a few party dresses, but they were too low cut for such an event. I spend 30 minutes going through my closet, trying on some jackets I hadn’t worn in a while, hoping to find something that looked business-like. Had the same problem with the shoes. By the time my husband got home from work, we had about 15 minutes to get there, and it was really a good 20 minutes away. I was really starting to panic that we would be the only parents to be late.
When my husband and I arrived at the restaurant just a couple of minutes late, I saw a sign that read, “Academic Awards Upstairs”. As we walked up the stairs, I tilted my head to look up and was glad to see that people were still milling around and had not yet been seated for dinner. I reached the top of the steps, and then everyone there yelled ‘Surprise!” Yep, I had been duped. I couldn’t believe it. Things had been so busy that I hadn’t even focused on my birthday yet — and the academic thing had been planned so far in advance that I never suspected it was a hoax. My husband is not really the romantic type – and that is an understatement — but he really went out of his way to do something sweet and romantic this time. A night I will not forget!