Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Moment #118: a writing prompt for your work-in-progress

(If you’ve already read this then skip past all the italicized blah-di-blah and start writing.) Monday Moments are writing prompts for your work-in-progress. They are questions that come from my experiences and are my favorite way to find out more about my characters. I find I learn a lot. Some of it I use. Some of it I don’t. But I always, always get to know my characters better just by answering the question. I hope you do too.)

In last week's post, I mentioned pulling off multiple surprises. And I did! So many that I was too exhausted to actually write about it last Monday (plus it was my oldest's double-ones day).

On May 1st my wonderful parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, and for the past couple of months I've been plotting and scheming to throw them a party.

Perhaps there's a couple things you should know. You might wonder why such a big bash for 40 years instead of waiting for 50. Well, this was the year that felt really important to me. My dad, only 60 years young, has been battling early-onset Alzheimer's for the past 6 years. So, as 40 years approached, I knew it was time for something special for an incredibly wonderful, and very loved couple.

Mom and Dad

The plotting began.

At first, I didn't think the party would be all that large: just some close friends and a few family members who might be able to make the trek all the way to the peninsula. Knowing that I would also have many friends and family who wouldn't be able to join us, I wanted arranged a most lovely gift to commemorate the special anniversary, as well.

But...SURPRISE! I ended up being the first to be hit by the unexpected. I thought that we might have an intimate gathering of 20 to 25, but the party grew and GREW. Suddenly I was expecting 50 plus at a party I was hosting in our home. Whee...let the ride begin.

The surprises for my parents started small. First, I had to be very nonchalant (ie. keep it cool and not panic) when my mom starting talking about plans she might make herself. On the Wednesday before the party, as my mom struggled to figure out what she and my dad should do, or where they should go, I told her that my brother and I had just talked and we really wanted to a have a special dinner for them on Saturday. Of course I was sure to let her know that we didn't want to ruin their plans *wink wink*, but we'd really like to celebrate with them.

Success. The set-up was in place.

The start of big surprises started the next day, beginning with four of seven family members arriving from out-of-state. They rented an incredible house right on the bluff of in Port Townsend overlooking the ferry dock.

My dad and oldest with the magnificent view. If you look close you can see Mt. Rainier.

My parents didn't suspect a thing until I called them on Thursday afternoon and asked them to meet me in town.

"Why?" my mom asked.

"Because I want you to see a friend's house."

"Okay." She said with great suspicion. "Where should we meet you?"

"The Post Office."

"The Post Office?"

"Yes. Park at the Post Office and call me when you park."

You'd be confused too, right? You see, this great house was directly across the street (from the PO).

When they arrived, I walked them into a strange house, and of course they were utterly confused. Until they saw this view, as well as my grandparents, great aunt, and cousin sitting below in the living room. Joy!

View from the entryway of the house. We never tired of the view.

This is when the tears started, and continued for a few days.

Surprise two was my uncle's arrival later that night.

Followed by surprise three, the following day, when my dad's cousin and his wife arrived. Seven family members from four different states. It was wonderful.

View again from entryway. We had a great time hanging out there.

By the time all arrived, I said to my parents, "So, a few more people are joining us for dinner tomorrow."
And, I'm sneaky. I dropped hints like, "I'm going to dress up tomorrow. I like to have a reason to wear a pretty dress."

The preparations started bright and early on Saturday morning, as I scrambled around, cleaning house, picking up the cakes and flowers, plus some cleaning and chopping. Then all the food and drink came out from their hiding places, and family arrived to be extra hands as the kitchen geared up for the big event.

All the craziness revealed the next surprise. Clearly I was preparing for something much larger than a family dinner.

"There will be some friends joining the celebration," I told my parents and then I continued directing in the kitchen. Frankly, I was panicked it wouldn't all get done, but somehow, at the last minute, it all came together. Beautifully!

My Great Aunt Liz works with my girls putting together caprese bites.

The doorbell began ringing, and with each person who walked through the door I watched my parents' eyes light up. I think that might have been the biggest joy of my day.

Entrway table of the party, celebrating a beautiful couple.

As person after special person came through the door, our home filled with about 60 people, most traveling quite a distance to celebrate a special couple.

But the surprises weren't over. One that had been in the works for a while.

Richard Jesse Wastson and his wife Susi were two of our special guests. About an hour into the party, an easel and a covered something-or-other was placed in the living room. We gathered and I attempted to thank everyone for coming and say some special words to my parents. That said, I was so choked up, I struggled a bit (or a lot) to get it all out.

Trying to hold it together.
Richard then helped me unveil a gift given to my parents from their many friends and family: a commissioned piece of art done by Richard.

Richard Jesse Watson talks about the painting, and some special touches.

It was a most beautiful surprise.

My mom has said many time, "Someday I would love to own an original piece of Richard's." But more in a dreamy-wouldn't-it-be-wonderful sort of way.

Now, not only do they own one, but it was done just for them, filled with many things special to them: the beach, mountains, moon, eagles, and heart-shaped rocks (something they collect). And to make it that much more special, sprinkled on that beach are forty heart-shaped rocks. Perfect.

Art by Richard Jesse Watson from loving friends and family to celebrate my parents' 40 years.
I'm sure it's pretty obvious that this was far more than a Moment for me and my family...but let us not for get the Moment and the prompt. And thanks for letting me share this beautiful celebration with you.

What surprise(s) has your character pulled off?

1 comment:

Martha Brockenbrough said...

This totally made me tear up.