It’s A Secret

collegeconfidential posts


sunriseeast — 01–21–2012 10:51 AM


your memory of your mother brought tears to my eyes.

One of the major drivers for me to start writing was my children. if I succumb before I have a chance to have an adult to adult conversations with them, I want them to have something of me that is not just their mother telling them to wash their hands, to go to bed, and say thank yous and excuse mes. I wanted them to know me as a person who existed before them and lived a life with a three dimensional view of the world in addition to being their mother. More than anything, I wanted them to know the inner me.

My kids are reading all this now, and have gotten to know me as a full bodied figure, not some abstract — prematurely! This really brought them closer to me. I have a lot to be thankful for.


sunriseeast — 02–12–2012 03:57 PM

hello everybody.

I am chiming in today to unload myself a little bit.

Do you know a children’s story about a barber and a king with donkey’s years?

Those who don’t know the story is, a king has donkey’s ears, and the only person who knew the secret was his barber, who was told to keep it quiet or else be killed.

The barber held it as a secret for a long time, but it was such a burden and he had to unload himself somehow. So he would go at night to a reed field, and shout “The king has donkey’s ears”. Comes fall, and some village kids made a flute out of the reed from the field, and when they try to play the flute, it would shout “the King has donkey’s ears” (a bit of a variation depending on which version).

Anyway, I feel like this barber. I have to share a secret with you. Don’t tell my husband.

Last six months, I have been planning and executing on the plan to throw a surprise birthday party for my husband. This is SO unlike me to do anything so conventional, he has no idea that I would be capable of scheming anything like this. I am the kind of a woman who is totally blasé about the idea of celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, or commercial Hallmark type events if you know what I mean. We got married in a courthouse, and spent $100 to take out a few fellow graduate students for lunch to mark the occasion (that was 26 years ago, and you could have a nice lunch for 10 on campus with that kind of money).

Besides, I have it on writing that if my husband ever springs anything like this on me, that would be a ground for divorce. But, HE does not have this in writing, so, here we go.

Last year was a tough one for him also. I believe it’s much tougher for a spouse than the patient herself. The patient gets to be the center stage primary character with all the care and attention. The spouse’s role is much rougher but thankless. So, I wanted to do this for him. I planned last September since I was inviting international guests and they needed much longer “warning”. Then I meticulously collected email addresses one at a time for all meaningful people in his life — from graduate school, his family overseas, his previous jobs, etc.

The whole thing was like a spy operation. I couldn’t just tell him “give me email addresses for XYZ from your days at Bell Labs, etc. That would look very suspicious. I had to “casually” inquire “Oh, do you remember so and so? Are you still in touch with him? Um… I wonder how they are doing after all these years”. And this had to be done VERY infrequently not to rouse his suspicion. I had to contact long lost friends and professional colleagues to ask them about who I should invite: I don’t know all the important characters from his past. The spy operation went on for months before I managed to get a complete list of people I should invite. Then, of course, there was an issue of paying for the party since I am doing it at a local hotel banquet hall. We share all credit card accounts, and everything is in joint account. I had to recruit my older son to pay the deposit from his own individual account not traceable to my husband. Now, I have to pay $12K three days before the party, and I don’t know yet how I am going to manage this without triggering an electronic notification for that kind of money transfer — I will figure out something…..

It’s not going to be on his actual birthday. I had to shoot for a weekend when my two kids spring breaks overlap.

All in all, it would be much easier if I were to have an affair or have a gigolo on a payroll :)

Since I started this plan, I had a cancer recurrence, a failed clinical trial, and non stop chemo. But I am really glad that in a few weeks, I will have this occasion. It will be such a happy event. There will be 80 people from various junctions of his life. If my current treatment indeed continues to work, the actual party date will be a few days after my last treatment (I hope this will be the case!).

Hugh…. you are my cyber reed field. I am so relieved to get it off my chest. You have no idea how difficult it has been for me to keep this kind of a monumental secret from him. We share everything. We tell each other when we barf, sneeze, cough, and perform some other bodily functions of more cathartic nature :)

Do NOT tell my husband!

Thanks for listening.

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