Wednesday, 12 December 2012

60th Birthday Celebrations

The week before my actual birthday was indeed a roller coaster ride of emotions after our lovely weekend away at Kingscliff the weekend before. Everyone who mattered to me seemed incredibly silent. No phone calls at all from friends and my kids seemed to be all caught up in their own worlds with their own families needs. I tried valiantly not to have any grandiose expectations at all for my 60th but my heart ached to just have my two kids together with me at some point over the ensuing weekend. And of course Sunday was Father's day too which always complicates any birthday celebrations for me.

After days and days of deathly silence I braved sending a text message to both Klinton and Ineka to see if they could at least spare a small piece of time from their busy lives to have breakfast together on Sunday morning to honour Carl on Father's day - even doing this made me rather nervous as it was Klinton's first Father's day after having little Avira and I felt sensitive that Alysia may well have something very special planned for him.

It wasn't too long before I received responses from both of them, with Ineka saying "Sorry, heading down to Central Coast for Katie's hen's night and all going down. Maybe catch up Monday night for dinner with you?" and Klinton's message was "OK - so what time? We will come and stay Saturday night." So many emotions raced through my soul and I felt gutted that I was not going to be able to see them together. I quietly wept and sometime later responded to Ineka's SMS with my heart feeling very heavy. "So so so sad… we went away last weekend so I could get to spend some special time with my two remaining chicks and their little families - ALL TOGETHER - especially for a keepsake family photo." After a couple of weeks of having problems being able to send messages to each other I don't think she ever received the message. I spent the next couple of days feeling really sad and my heart ached for Shayne, I knew he would not have abandoned me on my birthday, he was always very expressive on my birthday and would burst with excitement to make me feel loved and special. It was Thursday, my lunch break at work. I sat and held his picture which sits on my desk, and wept with deep aching sadness. The sadness that only a mother of a deceased child understands. Right now I needed to feel one of his reassuring, affectionate hugs.

Headed off to work on Friday trying very hard to appear composed and succeeded until about 10.30 and then aired my frustration to Lindy, the practice manager. She listened with her ears and even glimpses of eye contact. The surgery deals us different jobs on a Friday and my desk was covered in paper and little piles of jobs yet to conquer when Carl strolls into the waiting room from the rear access. "Hi there ladies, how are we going today?" he says. Then he looks at Lindy and says, "Would it be alright if I take me lady out for a while?" "Sure" says Lindy.

So I hop up from my desk and leave the mess strewn from one end to the other and let Lindy know I'll tidy it up when I return from lunch. She just smiled briefly and said "That's fine."

We head out towards the highway and then I begin to think we are headed for Wauchope for lunch which makes me a bit anxious as I know it takes 20 minutes each way, which doesn't leave much time for lunch in my lunch hour. However when we reach the highway, we turn left and head south and after 20 minutes or so I say to Carl, "Well I do hope you've made arrangements with Lindy for an extended lunch, 'cos there is no way we are going to be back in an hour!" He just smiles and begins whistling a tune. I make a private decision that I am not going to show any angst about the situation, but of course I was feeling a bit more than a little intrigued, anxious, bewildered and a tad stressed.

He turns off the highway at Kew and we headed to a little town called Kendall - The Poets Village. Nice, I thought. We had been to a little cafe there before and enjoyed its simple fare. We pull up in front of the Beetrooted Cafe, to find it all boarded up and no longer in existence. At this point I begin to think - great! Good planning Carl! The least you could have done was ring and book. But of course I don't express any of these thoughts and just go along with the motions. We do a u-turn and head back to the highway, for a moment I am thinking perhaps it will be a birthday lunch at McDonalds. We reach the highway and once again head south. I pick up my mobile and barely have it in my hand and Carl says "Who are you texting?" Actually this happened a couple of times. Rather paranoid I thought to myself.

Another half hour in the car heading south and I begin to think that we must be heading to the Central Coast. After all that is where Ineka and her family were heading for the weekend and Klinton lives in Cooranbong, so maybe Mohammed is going to the mountain, instead of the mountain coming to Mohammed. At this moment I do begin to be rather stressed. A weekend away might be nice, but a weekend away with your husband packing your bag might not be nice at all. Well it was a worry to this pretty little head. So I said to Carl "I am not sure what you've got planned, but I do hope you have everything that I might need!" He just smiled and said "You can just relax, everything is in control."

We turn off the highway and there it is McDonalds, I was right - oh my goodness! But no we drive on by and are now heading for Taree town centre. Why on earth would we be going to Taree of all places? I could hardly imagine a place more unromantic than Taree - 'Come on Rosalie, you must be happy about this, don't let your true feelings show.' Sure enough we pull up in the main street and Carl says, "Looks like a couple of cafes right here, which one takes your fancy?" I wanted to scream at him and say, "Well actually none!" We cruise into one of them and ordered our burger, then sit amongst the Taree locals. This is weird, really weird!

By now I am beginning to realise that my messy desk at work will be there to greet me next week. And I am also beginning to think that Lindy was in the know about this too. I hope she heads to confession this weekend.

In the car again, heading south again, driving through the beautiful aboriginal suburb of Purfleet and I am really really intrigued by this caper now. Then we turn left at the Forster turnoff. Now I am really tossed, Carl knows I don't like it at Forster and neither does he. What is the go….why on earth would you leave beautiful Port Macquarie to go to Forster? Wrong again! We take another left turn and head towards the coast and end up at a truly beautiful part of the world called Diamond Beach.

We turn into a driveway and there in front of us is a building which looks like a prison without the razor wire, What is this? We clamber out of the car and begin circling this bizarre looking place, our feet making loud crushing sounds as we walked on the white stones surrounding the place. Then I hear a voice, then another and another and then the sound of shrieking excitement as my four grandchildren come racing from all directions shouting "Happy Birthday Nanny-Rose!" Followed by their mother, my daughter, smiling with sheer delight that she had fully pulled off a great surprise for her mother. I just wept! Tears of joy, tears of guilt, tears of amazement, that they had done this for me.

My four grand children were shrieking with delight, grabbing my hands and wanting to drag me in all directions to show me what would be my home for the next three days. It was hard to identify the front door of the place as it looked similar on all sides, but the kids knew and they dragged me up the ramp into a large open foyer and there right in front of me in a  large open timber-decked courtyard stood a lovely collection of my very own black and white striped directors chairs and on the coffee table sat a lovely big arrangement of white oriental lilies which had been sitting beautifully on my dining room table when I left my house this morning. Awww, another few tears as I get swept away by my grandchildren. "Look Nanny-Rose." "Come and look at all the hammocks." "Come with me and see where you're sleeping…" And so I get dragged to every nook and cranny of this truly amazing beach house. Perfect in every way and especially ideal for my cherrybimbles to have fun in.

Soon after the dust settled from my whirlwind arrival, my suitcase materialised, along with a few extra bags of shoes, toiletries, jewellery and other bits and pieces. Ineka sweetly says, "I hope you have everything you need there." And Carl tells me that she had packed my bag, not him. I must say that was a bit of a relief. She did well and had managed to bring more than enough and had only slipped up on one thing and that was my hair brush, but she had one I could borrow. I begin to organise my clothes in my very large bedroom which has a king sized bed I might add and I hear a funny little 'peep'. I lift my head and there peeking around the corner of my bedroom is my youngest little granddaughter Avira Bella. My heart goes into meltdown yet again and I am very excited to see her family there to celebrate with me. Klinton and Alysia both have beaming smiles and are clearly excited to be part of the surprise.

Another half hour or so passes and I turn my head to see Andi and Lindsay also joining the celebrations. They seemed to only indulge in a rather brief greeting before heading to their car to carry copious amounts of stuff inside. Bags and bags arrive into the kitchen and it becomes rather obvious that Andi has been slaving quite a bit over a hot stove. She loves hospitality and loves cooking, but not near as much as we loved eating her fare. Just as the flurry of food preparation began for Friday nights dinner, yet another arrival, the Mowdays. They were excited to be there and really loved the beach house. They also began carrying bits and pieces into the house. How nice to have almost all of my very favourite people sharing a house with me for the weekend. Did notice that Jacqui wasn't there but understood as she lives way way way out west and apart from the days to get here, they would have needed to coincide with her shift work which is nigh impossible. Also missed my long time lovely friend Heather who would have loved to share this special time with me. And of course my heart ached to have had just a few moments with my boy Shayne.

We all shared dinner together which was prepared by, well actually, I am not sure who prepared what, but it was beautiful and we all enjoyed settling in to our new environment.

The next morning the little kids of course were all awake rather early, but to a grandparent it is always a sweet sound. I hadn't slept very well as all sorts of things were spinning around in my head, like 'How did they pull this off without me picking up on it' and 'How on earth did they afford to pay for this place' and 'How can I ever repay them for this.' 

Carl appeared to be on duty to prepare his traditional gourmet breakfast for us all. Which was very yummy I must say. There was quite a beehive buzzing in the kitchen, with Carl preparing bits and pieces and Andi and Lindsay producing vast jugs full of fresh juices. What a feast! Daryl was a little late arriving for breaky as he had been off gathering some firewood so we could light the big open fire that sat promptly in the middle of this vast room. It certainly added a nice ambience to the place as the day wore on, with souls lounging on the big padded cushions against the windows. The kids happily played their kinds of games and shrieked and giggled with each other, particularly enjoying their new little cousin Avira, who seemed totally fascinated by their busyness.

Late morning Michelle, Dakoda and I had a lovely walk along the beach together, chatting, taking photos - as I do, and Dakoda drawing ginormous hearts in the sand with 'Happy Birthday Nanny-Rose inside them.' The weather was perfect and we really enjoyed that special time together. Michelle  loved spending this special time with Ineka and Klinton's kids in so she could get to know them even more in a relaxed unhurried environment.

We just had a late snack for our lunch after such a big brunch no-one seemed at all hungry. Around 3.45pm Carl made an announcement that we all needed to be ready in 15 minutes for a photo shoot on the beach. Everyone rallied and put on their black and/or white clothes so their was at least some co-ordination in the group. And off we set along the beach track for a few minutes to beautiful Diamond Beach. It was lovely late afternoon light but unfortunately the wind was way too strong for relaxed photos. We did our best under the circumstances and Carl managed to capture a few precious keepsakes for me to treasure. The colourful kite flying at a great rate of knots helped to entertain the little ones and also made for some interesting photography.

The light was rapidly disappearing by the time we arrived back at the house, however as we walked into the courtyard area the most amazing golden light flooded the whole area and we managed to capture some fantastic shots before it rested its head for the night.

Lounging around the fire with my grandchildren having bedtime story time all together was a precious memory I will take to the grave. Of course they all wanted a turn of my iPad, all at the same time so we organised a system that seemed to keep them all happy. Then came the scramble for dinner which seems to take place as par for the course when there are four hungry children. Kids feed time, bath time and bed time was soon over and the house took on a different ethos.

Soon began a different busyness in the kitchen and each person seemed to have their designated role doing something. That is, except me. Well actually Inx and Sime seemed to be relaxing with me and we had a nice time together in front of the fire, well, until Ineka began to help to set the big table. Soon it was beautifully adorned like a bride on her wedding day. White cloth, candles, soft music and the wonderful aromas of specially prepared fare. This was clearly the birthday dinner for the weekend. Nice!

We all find our place at the long table sitting with anticipation like the disciples at the last supper. We all held hands and Carl gave thanks for the food and thanked the Lord for the 60 years that He had blessed me and carried me. The food was delicious and the company even more so. I was purring like a kitten. Then after the main meal Ineka stands up at the head of the table holding a sweet potato (aka microphone) and begins to be the MC for the evening which was very funny and touching all at the same time. She proceeds to tell everyone why we are here doing what we are doing and wants me to know just how special I really am. Then says that she will be back after the sweets. She is very funny sometimes.

The sweets come out and of course a hearty rendition of "Happy Birthday."! How sweet.

Then we are brought to attention by the girl with the sweet potato microphone again. This time she has a little collection of gift bags in front of her on the end of the table. I felt sick, '… if the whole weekend experience wasn't enough!' 'Oh no…. another sleepless night'!

Gifts, one from all my work colleagues, (so they were in on the surprise too!) then some lovely earrings from Daryl and Michelle. And a cast iron pot and a wall decal from Andi and Lindsay. Then the last gift - oh my goodness! I can't believe it! A lovely new amazing Nikon camera with 42X optical zoom. Tears again….! I feel totally overwhelmed with everyone's generosity. They had all contributed to the camera apparently.

At this point I claim the sweet potato (aka microphone) and on the spare of the moment instead of giving a general thank you to them all, I spontaneously decide to work my way around the table. I begin telling each of them why they have been and still are such an important part of my life and sharing just some of the reasons why. I teared up a few times as I spoke and so did some of the recipients. This took quite a bit of time but I made no apology and they all seemed to appreciate what I had to say. Mind you I think it foiled their plans for some fun games, I am not sure. I had a little play with my new camera and decided I would leave it till the morning when I could see it better as the mood lighting was not conducive to my 60 year old eyesight.

Yet another restless night, worrying about how undeserving I was of all this. Sure, I wanted to have some QT with my family but this… goodness!

Sunday morning and it was looking as though Daryl and Michelle were busily cooking pancakes and other breaky delights, along with hash brown and scrambled eggs. Yum! Andi and LInds were at the juicing machine again making their delicious concoction and the children were filled with kiddy banter that brought so much sunshine to my soul. I could never have wished for anything better for my birthday, being with all of these special people who have impacted so much on my life and doing exactly what we were doing.

After a very relaxed time eating and chatting over breaky, we all went for a little drive to a nearby market which was near a lovely beach where we walked and took even more photos. Around 5.30-6.00pm my friends packed up and headed home to the Central Coast but we stayed one more night at the beach house.

We had consumed so much delicious gourmet food all weekend that we decided to just have some nibbles and drinks for dinner. Our precious little family sat around after the clean up and the little kids were all tucked into bed and just when I thought it was finally time for a cruisy time of de-briefing and reflecting, Klinton strolled awkwardly into the room carrying a small carry bag. The others were all looking on with anticipation as he stood in front of me and made a little speech and presented me with yet another gift. I could not believe it! With tears in my eyes I couldn't even read what he had given me, but I could see that it was a package from TravelWorld. He told me that it was something that he really wanted me to do and the others all endorsed his words with nods of approval and sweet affirming words which expressed their appreciation of me. More tears and then even more flowed when they told me that it was a trip to Europe and included a 24 day cruise on the Mediterranean, flying to Rome then to Alexandria in Egypt, Mykonos in Greece, Istanbul in Turkey, Athens in Greece, Venice in Italy, Dubrovnik in Croatia, Santorini in Greece, Naples in Italy.

Wow Wow Wow!!!

What more can I say...

I love you all