The Most Important Party I Ever Threw
Not everyone can say, “I love you.”
The lights were out as we waited for them to come in the door.
Everyone held their breath. This was so much fun. My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest.
My sister and I had worked so hard. We even took down the drapes to get them cleaned. We knew this would be a day our mom would never forget. An anniversary party. Nineteen years.
I looked over at the appetizers we made. Little pickle sailboats with cheese we sprayed into the hulls, with american cheese triangles for sails. It didn’t matter that Uncle Pat said a couple of them looked like steam ships. Mom would like them. They were the best sail boats ever.
“Shh.” Our 12 year old brother, George said as he looked out the window.
“Why are the lights, out?” we heard mom say.
“I don’t know,” dad answered. Now dad was in on this. How else would be get him to take her out and bring her home at the right time?
As their footsteps got closer, someone flipped the switch, “Surprise!” we yelled in unison, or as close as we could get.
If only you could have seen her face. Her brown eyes were opened wide. She grinned from ear to ear as she looked from one person to the next. A whole room of people who loved her. All there for her.
“The girls did the whole thing,” dad told her.
Mom looked over at and smiled. She wasn’t one to express how she felt in words, and yet, the feelings came through, just the same.
We felt warm inside. We did it.
Actions have a language all their own
No, maybe our mom didn’t say, “I love you.”
But we still felt her love in other ways.
Like the times she would let me stay up till she came home from our Snack Shop. She and I would watch old black and white movies in the summer, and eat homemade sundaes she brought home, just for us. Nuts and whipped cream, but no cherries. Love remembers.
Or the time I asked mom for a black patent leather purse to match my shoes for Easter and she said no. Even though I pleaded, she stood her ground.
Yes, my 12 year old heart was disappointed. But when I ran downstairs with my siblings to see our Easter baskets, I stopped short. There on the buffet sat all the baskets, and right on top of my basket sat the purse I had wanted so badly. Love knows.
My mom taught us how to show love. I guess we learned it well.
My mom’s party was a hit. Greek dancing, lots of laughter, and a house full of relatives.
It was a party worth remembering. A party we’d never forget.
Life is often a mystery. At the time, we didn’t know why throwing that party was so important. We just knew it was. I mean, who throws a party for a nineteen year wedding anniversary? And yet, we did.
Because you never know
Ten days later, we got together with our relatives again. But this time was different. There would be no dancing, there would be no laughter. Instead, we said goodbye to the only mother we ever had. There were flowers everywhere. We stood nervously around, not knowing how to act, not knowing what to do, or what we’d do when we went home to our empty house.
There is no house as empty as the one without a mom.
We never know what life will bring us. We don’t know how long we’ll live.
As I saw each of our mom’s brothers and sisters at her funeral, all of them mentioned that night.
“She was so happy….That was such a special party…I’m so glad you girls did that.”
I learned 4 things through that traumatic time in our lives.
1) Show your loved ones how you feel
Since we don’t know what our future holds, or how much time we have left, we should take every opportunity to let our loved ones know how we feel. We can drop them a note, or give them a call, or even take them out for a cup of coffee.
2) Accept people for who they are
Some people can express how they feel. Aunt Jeanette always had a kiss for us or a big hug. But everyone is not an Aunt Jeanette. Our mom loved us and we knew it, even by the way she’d look at us. I really miss those looks.
Some people can’t say the words, but they show you instead.
3) Throw a party
Don’t wait when you want to let someone know they’re special. It’s always the right time for a party. And if you need a great recipe for pickle sailboats, let me know.
4) If you can, tell people how you feel
For years, I felt bad I had never heard my mother express her love to us with words.
It was a pattern I wanted to break. So I decided to just say the words I had wanted to hear. And I never missed an opportunity. I also found that it was natural when I became a grandma.
Life is short. We should live our lives with as few regrets as possible. I will always smile when I think about that party. We wanted to do it, and we did.
Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
I’m sure my mom knew that.
What about you?
Who do you think of when you hear a story like this? A teacher you appreciated, a relative you always felt close to?
If you can’t say it in person, why not give them a call, or drop them a note?You’ll make their day.