While He May Never Remember ... I Will Never Forget

Today is my grandfather's 93rd birthday. Ninety-three years old!!

So this past weekend my aunts & uncles threw a party for him at his Nursing Home in South Bend, Indiana. Everyone was planning on attending ... all my dad's siblings, most of their kids, and many of the great grand kids. Of course I only found out about it late Friday night in a passing conversation with my mom. Not one to be left out of a chance to eat cake, I began researching ways to fly to South Bend and surprise everyone - especially my dad (who didn't even tell me about the party).

I reached out to my aunt on Saturday morning and asked her to give me all the info about the party. She gave me the low down of when and where it was, while my uncle gave me a few tips about where I should fly in. It looked like there was a chance I could actually pull this off. The only problem was the cost.

Do you know how expensive it is to book a flight less than 24 hours in advance? To a location where you can't get a direct flight? When you need two tickets? Let's just have you trust me that it is.

Since we had plans all day Saturday the only thing I could do was leave my trip up to fate. I figured that if I there were seats available on a United Airlines flight later that night, where I could use my frequent flyer miles, and I could fly in early enough to Chicago on Sunday morning where I could then rent a car and make the 2+ hour drive out to South Bend and arrive just prior to the party starting, then it was meant to be.

As you can see ... it was.

I booked our airline tickets and rented our car at 7:30 pm on Saturday night. And at 6:25 am, Grady and I left our house, drove to the airport and parked in daily parking. We took a small overnight bag, his car seat and stroller, bundled ourselves up in the 22 degree cold and high tailed it to our gate to get through security and make our 7:58 am flight.

I kept in close contact with my aunt throughout the morning to let her know our whereabouts. And at 12:50 pm, with a whole ten minutes to spare, we pulled up to The Milton Home where the party was being held. I called my dad who could barely hear me on the other end, and he told me that he flew out to South Bend early and was at a party for his dad. He said he'd take a ton of photos and send them to me later that night. While he was talking to me, I sent him a text message with a picture that I told him he just had to see right then of Grady ...

Needless to say he was surprised.

The day was a roller coaster of emotions ... from wonderful to see all my cousins and relatives to bittersweet as with my grandfather's dementia, he said very few words and had no idea who I even was. But we took pictures. Lots and lots and lots of pictures ...

A four generation photo and photo of my dad's siblings

The daughter / granddaughters, the great grandsons, the grandchildren & great grandchildren

Of course, this isn't the first time I've surprised family for my grandfather's birthday. Remember his 90th birthday party back in 2008, when I was pregnant and came with the girls to California?

Or way back in 1998 when we ALL surprised him for his 80th birthday party looking far ... younger.

A wonderful whirlwind trip to celebrate my Zadie's ninety-three wonderful years of a life well lived. And though he may not remember any of it anymore ... we sure do.


Issa said...

I'm so glad you were able to do that. It makes me remember my last few trips to see my grandparents. Time you can't get back.

Kat said...

Maybe he can't express his joy over the wonderful party and you being there, but I bet he was bursting on the inside. His spirit was rejoycing. What a lucky man to have such a loving family.
So glad you were able to make it. :)

Becky said...

That is just awesome. I am so glad it worked out for you.

Jill said...

I can really relate to your feelings about it being bittersweet. My grandmother passed away last July at 96 years old and after about 90 she really went downhill mentally. I loved visiting her because I caught glimpses of her true self, but it was heartbreaking. So awesome that you were able to make the trip.

Christy said...

So sweet Jill. I miss my grandpa so much...I imagine you've started to already too.

Lisa said...

oh jill. you are a freaking rock star of a daughter. i had chills the entire time i was reading that post. a day you will never, ever forget!

Just US said...

That is so awesome that you and Grady were able to go!! What great memories!!

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