A few weekends ago, two of the kids and I drove from Ottawa to Malagash where my parents live, for a surprise birthday party for my mom, who turns 80 in January. There were so many surprises.
• There is a potato museum in New Brunswick. It’s called Potato World.
• My sister is correct that helium balloons seek escape from parked cars at every possible opportunity.
• The story about my dad leaving his underwear in the bed in great Aunt Peggy’s spare bedroom while my parents were on their honeymoon so many years ago will be told again and again and again, forever.
• “Drive straight for nine hours, then take exit 124 to Carling Ave” is an actual thing a GPS app will dare to say.
• The cake matters. I wouldn’t have guessed this, but when my sister and I picked up the cake, we realized that soft pink flowers didn’t suit our mom. But it was too late to request a turquoise or purple cake, exploding with colour, bursting with flavour and scattered with candy.
There were also things that weren’t a surprise, but still beautiful. Like how much our mom enjoyed being surprised. And how she wore her glittery headband with antenna that brought to mind an overjoyed bumble bee, rocking on her heels beside my daughter, piping in with stories as Holly led a trivia game about Mom’s life thus far. It wasn’t a surprise so many people came, and especially the cousins we grew up with, and how we danced to “We are Family” by Sister Sledge, like we do at every possible opportunity, and stayed up late sharing our good news and our stories.