Monday, August 4, 2014


A little more than two weeks ago my three adult children and their families came into town. Not unusual because they all make a summer visit but not necessarily at the same time. By the morning of July 19th we had 11 people in our house ranging in age from 78 years down to 15 months. My daughter, Joy, and her family of four were due in about three o'clock. Without much in the way of mathematical skills, I'm sure you figured out that that would make 15 rowdies eating and sleeping together in our three bedroom home. Out of this number, 6 were boys, ages 1-11 and 1 girl, age 8.

On Saturday, after awakening, washing up, and attempting to get themselves breakfast, the grandkids took to the backyard to conduct wrestling matches while the so-called adults plunked themselves down on the patio to set the agenda for the day. Though the plans for the morning were sketchy, we'd agreed to hit Kennywood Park after Gabe, the youngest, woke up from his afternoon nap. Right about then, Kaden, 7, was calling a penalty on Liam, 7 for unsportsmanlike conduct. Of course, Liam denied any wrongdoing and claimed his cousin was a baby. Somebody hit somebody with a hard ball and somebody was screaming bloody murder. After a while I purposely forgot who was being the aggressor and who was being aggressed. I find it's better to keep my sanity that way.

My younger daughter, Kristy, decided the best course of action was for the dads to take their kids to White Oak Park, a county green space, where their little darlings could let off some steam and hopefully stay in one piece before going to Kennywood. She suggested they stop along the way for a burger and then we'd have a more substantial meal later on at the park. Once they left, peace returned to the valley.

Kristy, Kelly, my daughter-in-law, and I sat outside and talked and laughed for at least an hour or two. Finally Gabe woke up and Kristy called her hubby, Todd, to get a bead on their location. They were still at Sumac Grove, the kids were having a ball running through the raindrops and didn't want to leave, so we decided we'd meet them there and head out together for Kennywood.

My husband and I drove our own car because if the baby tired at the park, we'd bring him home while the others stayed to continue riding the coasters and the other death-defying attractions. As we rode towards the back of White Oak, we noticed picnickers partying under pavilions because of the misty rain. I announced how badly I felt for them even though they seemed unphased by the weather.

Upon reaching Sumac, I spotted my son's truck parked among tons of other cars. I told my husband how rude it was  of our kids to have taken up space in an area that had clearly been reserved by other's for their own purposes. When he stopped the car and got out, I assumed my hubby was going to apologize for his family's inconsiderateness. Instead three of my grandsons came running to the passenger side and were yelling something I couldn't quite understand. As I opened my door, they screamed, "Happy birthday, Grammy!" In no uncertain terms, I told them it wasn't my birthday and to get in their dad's vehicles so we could proceed to Kennywood.

But, as I looked around I spied my daughter,Joy standing with a crowd of family and friends smiling from ear-to-ear yelling, "We gotcha!" and then bursting into the birthday song followed by the Ole Gray Mare. Now my 70th birthday isn't until September so they had hatched the perfect plan to pull off a surprise party which they hadn't ever been able to accomplish before. I've always been the one to plan our celebrations and the one to surprise just about everybody in the family at one time or another.

The food was sensational, the games, robust, and the many well-wishes truly enjoyable. I received wonderful greeting cards, lottery tickets, and unexpected, but greatly-appreciated gifts. But what was and will always remain closest to my heart was that my children, their children, my family, and my friends took the time to celebrate my life in such a glorious, sneaky way. "We gotcha!" thrilled them to no end, and I must tip my hat to all of them since I never had a clue!

We partied hardy, cleaned up the pavillion, and headed back to our house. For the rest of the evening, the adults talked on the patio, the kids ran around catching June bugs, and the baby slept peacefully in the pack-n-play. Around midnight everybody found their spots either in a bed, on the floor or in a chair ready for a good night's sleep. I think they all dreamed of the look on my face as I realized they'd actually pulled the wool over my eyes. And, I'm sure they considered their dreams sweet!  I know I did!