DISCLAIMER: This is going to be a long read, so please bear with me as I try to recount in detail the preparations for my Mom’s surprise birthday party…
Mom turned 50 two weeks ago. As a tradition, our family hears thanksgiving mass together, then celebrate at some fancy restaurant. This year, however, we took things differently. Mom and Dad heard mass early that morning before Dad went to work. Instead of going out, Mom opted to cook her on her birthday—a new recipe she just learned. It was a simpler celebration compared to those she had the previous years. We all had a feeling that Mom expected a little more from us on her special day [although she never admitted she did]. Well, Mom, how about you wait until Dad’s birthday?
On Father’s Day, Dad and I thought of throwing a surprise birthday celebration for Mom. This was in June. We first thought of having it on a Saturday nearest her actual birthday; however, that was my best friend’s wedding and we were invited, so we had to move it to another date. Incidentally, the following Saturday was Dad’s actual birthday. Having realized this, a brilliant idea came to mind. The plot was to make Mom believe that we’re just going to have a usual family dinner, a triple celebration of some sort since Roi also had his birthday in August. Dad thought Mom would buy this, so he agreed to my suggestion.
Dad’s scheduled trip to The Netherlands will fall two weeks prior to Mom’s birthday, so I assumed the role of event organizer. As early as July, Dad had connived with one of Mom’s best friends in college, Tita Julie, to involve some of their friends with the celebration. Fortunately, she was able to collect video messages from those who are living abroad. On the other hand, I had the venue at Max’s Restaurant reserved for the occasion. I started working on the invitations alongside those I was doing for my wedding. My brothers were assigned to prepare a tribute, an audio-visual presentation (AVP), to be shown during the program.
Dad was only able to distribute most of the invitations when he got back from his business trip. Since it’s Mom’s special day, we invited only a few close people to her—family friends, neighbors, and college friends. Although I have made it explicit in the invitation that it’s going to be a surprise party, Dad echoed this again as he handed the invites out to them.
Just when we all thought everything’s going well as planned, would you believe that our plan almost got busted a day before the celebration? Apparently, one of our neighbors who was invited to her party mentioned this when they took for a ride on Friday. Good thing Mom did not probe further into it; otherwise, it would have killed the excitement.
Mom and Dad had a prior commitment on Saturday afternoon, but it’s the first time Dad gave Mom the once-over on what she’s wearing and how she looked. Mom thought this was so not like my Dad, but she just kept it to herself. Just before they left for their appointment, Dad handed her the invitation to her party. My brothers and I were in the living room, but we heard her burst of laughter, resonating in the entire house. Only then did she realize why Dad was acting so weird!
After their meeting, Dad took Mom to Max’s Restaurant. Funny that one of the guests, Tito Robert, was already there and Mom thought it was just a coincidence. When they got to the function room, she was shocked to see family friends there. You can tell that Mom was already having an awesome time even when the program hasn’t started.
We graced the occasion with an opening prayer. Since we were an hour late when we began, Dad and I decided to tweak the sequence of events in the program. We had dinner served before everything else, so the guests won’t feel bored and restless. Half-way through dinner, Dad went on with the show. We played all three video greetings of Mom’s college friends. Unfortunately, Dad’s other ally in getting hold of these, Ninang Julie, was not able to come. She had confirmed on going, but no one can drive her to the South, so she had to cancel the last minute. Dad had some friends give their respective birthday messages for Mom—some where prepared, some where put on-the-spot. Hahaha!
We were already engrossed with how the program was going when, to our surprise, Fr. Gerry showed up! Fr. Gerry is a good friend, a former parish priest in our community. I felt ecstatic that he did not let us down by turning up. He had a prior commitment in church, so he had to say his speech quickly, gave blessings to the birthday celebrants, and sped off. Regardless, I was happy that he was there. If I may share, I personally requested that he administers the ceremony on our wedding day. :)
Shortly after, Dad passed on the mic to me for my birthday message for Mom. I was prepared. I had my speech drafted a few weeks ago, and had it finalized as the occasion drew nearer. I didn’t have time to print it, so I had my message saved on my phone. My speech was inspired by Mitch Albom’s For One More Day. I wish I had given my message to Mom personally than read it in front of an audience. I hadn’t even started, but I was already emotional. My voice was already breaking when I began with the first sentence,
Please allow me to begin this tribute by recounting the Times My Mother Stood Up for Me: […]
I could not even look at my mother as I was reading my message. I knew that if I did, I won’t be able to finish, and just burst into tears. I had everyone’s attention and empathy as I went on with my speech. Through my lashes I could see some of them tearing up silently in their seats. Needless to say, it was a very emotional message and I could tell Mom appreciated it. My brothers followed suit; however, they were teasing each other since I had my speech written in English, and they came unprepared. Of course, Dad was last to give his message. Dad was not much of talker, so he had his speech written short, but sweet.
To wrap up the celebration, Mom took the stage to give her reaction and thank-you speeches to each and everyone who came to her surprise birthday party. In her message, she was unable to express his gratitude to the people who went out of their busy lives to be at her birthday celebration. Basically, she was at a lost for words. Looking back, only then did she realize why the printer/scanner had not been on their computer table, why most of us are always wakeful. It overwhelmed her knowing that she’s accomplished a lot in her 50 years of existence, most especially as a wife and mother to her family.
Believe it, Mom, because it’s true. :)