On July 1st my land line rang. It rarely does so usually I pay attention when it does. It was my brother. He said he was going to be passing through town and asked if we would be around for the 4th. We had already made plans but since I've been asking him to come up for a visit for the past couple of years to meet his nieces and see his nephews, not to mention, celebrate our Mom's 75th birthday, I said I would drop everything and be on stand by for his visit. However, I wanted to throw our mom her birthday party. Her birthday is just a few days after the 4th so this would be perfect.
I called up my mom and asked her to come over for the 4th. She said she had plans already. I explained I really needed her help to get ready for a July 4th gathering so I was hoping she could change her plans. She, of course, said sure. I also arranged for my sister to be in on the plan as well.
On the 3rd I had to work. I don't usually work on Thursdays but I've been working different days here and there to accommodate summer vacations. I don't have much vacation time because of maternity leave. Thursday night I stopped and picked up a birthday cake. My mom was already at my house when I arrived. She was going to stay the night and "help" with the festivities and watch the baby so I could prepare things. She saw that the cake was yellow (her favorite color). My reply, "Uh, yes, umm, the store did not have any more red, white, and blue ones that were chocolate." (Just seems like a totally horrible thing to lie to one's mother so I was really stumbling on my words.) But, she bought it. Fortunately, I had the 7 and 5 candles hidden away in my purse at the time.
On the 4th, Hubby and I awoke early. My mom played with the kids while we cleaned up the house. Then she started to help me cook because that's just who she is - she just dives in a helps - all the time. She will often tell me, "What can I do to help? Put me to work. I don't like sitting here watching you." So, I did just that - I wanted her distracted from her surprise birthday party, especially with the big surprise that was driving a long way to see her. While the baby slept and the kids played in their clean rooms, she and I cooked. As she was rolling out tortillas I received a text from my brother that he was about 30 minutes out. I sent the kids outside to wait. Well, it took a little longer than that and the directions I gave were a bit confusing but about a hour later, he arrived and the kids greeted him at the door. Man, was it tough on them to keep this whole thing a surprise but they were great!
I thought it awesome that even though they were traveling on the 4th they were still wearing red, white, and blue. The kids led in their uncle and Lil Sister announced, "Nan, we have a surprise for you..." She looked down at her because she was totally expecting a drawing as that is usually what accompanies such an announcement. But instead when she looked up, there was my brother.
It was awesome! She was speechless. Then she cried and hugged him. It had been a couple years since they had last seen each other. However, it had been about 10 years since all her kids were together. A short while later my sister (and brother-in-law and nephew) who lives local arrived and there she had it, all her kids together. She said later that she thinks it may have been the first birthday she had all of us together to celebrate her birthday. That may very well be true. She also said, for the record, it was the best birthday she has ever had.
It was wonderful to catch up with my brother and sister-in-law. I know they were tired from their travels and went well out of their way to drive up here for the visit, but it was wonderful and Mom is still talking about it. It was nice to hear about my nieces and nephew and all their kids. They are more like cousins to me with some of their kids being older or the same age as mine. I especially enjoyed the political conversations with my brother and sister-in-law. We share a lot of the same opinions there.
Before they left, I insisted on singing happy birthday to our mom. Then I confessed that I lied to her about the cake. She laughed and forgave me. I also insisted on some photos. My brother was a good sport.
A few other things I will remember from the day - T kept calling my brother Uncle Jules. Lil Sister was pretty shy around him. The baby liked my sister-in-law, but then again, most babies do. It was fun to also see my brother carry my baby daughter around. I will also note in the photos my brother looks like a giant among us ladies. He is definitely the tall one in the family but we are also quite short (Mom being 4'11").
It was a great visit. I am so grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for taking the extra time to drive up here for the afternoon and celebrate with us. They could only stay a few hours but it meant the world to my mother, as well, as the rest of us.
Here are some of those photos to commemorate the day...