S U R P R I S E
I did not know, but have been telling lies. Lisa and Lenny did not come to Oregon to
attend an Oregon Duck football game. The game was only part of an elaborate
camouflaged secret plot to gather our friends and family to celebrate our 60th
Birthdays in 2015!
Yes, the kids did treat us to an incredible day
at the Santa Anita Racetrack for Dave's 60th in April, and they are taking
Jimmy Buffett at the Hollywood Bowl October 22 for my birthday, so a surprise party
for the both of us in September was indeed a surprise.
Talk about planning ahead - they sent save-the-date cards to our family and
family in June.
Dave and I thought: Lenny and Lisa were going to take us to dinner Sunday night and
my sister, Renee, and her daughter, Carla (who lives in San Diego and just
happened to be visiting Portland this weekend), would babysit. Lenny said
he would take care of the restaurant reservations and had hired a towncar for the night.
Okay. I was fine with this, but was wondering why Lenny wouldn't tell us exactly
where we were going. He said it was going to be a surprise. Dave and I thought
the kids would be taking us to one of our favorite Italian restaurants, or
possibly to the restaurant we went to on Lenny's first visit to Portland with
Lisa? Either way, practically every time the kids come up for a visit,
Renee/Carla babysit one night, while we hire a towncar to take us to/from
dinner. Dave and I were completely clueless to the
plot. All systems were set to "normal" in our little world.
There were a few snags in their plan.
1. Since the kids were coming up for the weekend, Dave and I had sent
invitations for an "Open House" on Sunday so all our friends/family could come
over. I had no idea our friends were already planning to attend a surprise
party in our honor on this date and was completely stumped that every single one
of our friends said they already had plans/could not attend. (Now that I think
of it, several
fibbing friends people even provided excuses as to why they could not come over
on Sunday evening.) No matter, we switched it to a Friday afternoon open house
and many people came. I had no idea we would be seeing
them all again on Sunday. What a bunch of sneaky friends we have... or they knew
Leo and Lucy would not be at the party and wanted a little snuggle-time?
2. Our little plumbing fail Saturday morning, as we were heading down to Eugene
for the football game, sent Lisa into a spiral (of which Dave and I had no idea). Lisa
practically insisted I stay to take care of this problem. Little
did I know that the other option - everyone moving to a hotel for the rest of
the weekend because we could not shower or flush here - could have made her secretive plan possibly crumble.
3. Unbeknownst to us, our gathering Friday, and being at the football game all day Saturday
- was torture for
our friends - so worried they would accidentally slip
4. The football game went so late Saturday night - Dave, Lisa, Lenny and Leo
did not get home until nearly 2 o'clock in the morning Sunday. There was
also a little slide-room-refusing-to-retract issue. The 20-minutes it took DT to
figure out a solution in the Autzen Stadium parking lot must have seemed like
ten hours to a secretly-stressed Lisa. On Sunday, Dave was so tired, he suggested we all just stay-in Sunday
night. Poor Lisa and Lenny! Luckily, Dave went down for a two-hour afternoon nap and
This whole time - with months of planning and countless email and phone calls
between Lisa and our pals - not one of our siblings or
friends gave us even one hint of the surprise. (Lisa sent-out an all-points bulletin
stating "if you slip up and tell my parents about the party, you have to pay the
bar tab", and that threat seemed to keep everyone zip-lipped.) Just in case I happened to see a message pop up on her cell phone, Lisa
actually changed the names of several people in her contact list. My
sister-in-law, Kris, became "Kris Paris". Leo's godmother, Angela, (and several other people)
flew into Portland for the weekend, so had gone to the trouble to block me on
Instagram and "unfriend" me on
Facebook, so I could not see their Portland posts -
potentially blowing the surprise. Lisa's godmother, Nancy, cancelled lunch with me last
week, terrified she would accidentally slip up. Dave and I let all these things
completely go over our heads. We were clueless Lisa and Lenny were planning
the party of the
The planets aligned. Calm fell over the realm. Renee and Carla showed up (saying
they were all dolled-up because they had just come from a luncheon with
friends), Leo and Lucy were fed and were getting ready for bed. The towncar
to fetch the adults and we headed out into Oregon wine country for what Dave and
I thought would be a wonderful meal with our daughter and her husband.
After our towncar left the driveway, a professional sitter arrived to relieve my sister and
Carla for the evening, and 36 of our siblings and friends were pulling into the parking lot at the gorgeous hill-top
Ponzi Winery. Corks were popped as they enjoyed a glass of wine, awaiting
the arrival of the 60-year-olds.
So, then this happened:
Video by "Kris Paris"
When the doors opened, I saw the face of my brother, Steve. Then
I saw his wife, Kris. They live in Denver. My first reaction was complete
confusion. Everyone was yelling SURPRISE, but what was the surprise? Then Lisa
and Lenny said Happy Birthday and we started looking around the room
filled with our nearests and dearests and I started crying. Dave and
I were in a state of disbelief.
Ponzi Vineyards presented a beautiful spread of delicious foods - cheeses, meats,
lamb meatballs, lox and creme fraische on house-made potato chips, fruit,
marinated vegetables, arancini, olives, nuts - and poured their amazing wines.
Lisa asked Rosycakes
(Rosie happened to marry Dave's college roommate) to prepare a birthday cake and
array of sweets. Lenny arranged for a
Super Blood Moon and lunar eclipse to appear in the cloudless sky over the
vineyard. Somewhere to the west, someone was probably having a Quinceañera or
wedding, as the heavens exploded in fireworks. The night was magical.
After everyone had settled-in, Lisa and Lenny each gave a short speech, but I can't be sure they were talking about us.
We are nice people, and have obviously raised a lovely daughter, who has
chosen her perfect partner, but that is all we ever wanted in life. The speeches
were too kind.
Lenny and Lisa
our overly-organized lives and busy travel schedules were so complicated, planning this party was very
difficult. They both said we are kind and generous, and that they loved that
so many momentous occasions in the lives of everyone in the room were so
intertwined with us. Their speeches were funny, smart and filled with so
much love, I nearly burst. Okay. I did. We both did.
Listening to the speeches
Mary, Kathy, Steve, Brother Steve, Carla and Renee listen to Lenny & Lisa
Friends and family not able to attend sent video clips. Lisa arranged
them all into a short film so we could see people from around the world tell us Happy Birthday! This was just so much fun and I was crying again.
It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To.
Lenny, with Family of Friends: Chris, Steve and Laura
Rosie (of RosyCakes)
and Terry (DT's college roommate) and old friends, Marci & Jim (they also winter
in Palm Springs)
DT, happy with friends Nellie and Matt
All photos today (except, obviously, this one) were taken by this handsome fella.
Quinny worked with Dave in The Philippines in the 80's.
A great evening at Ponzi Vineyard
Nellie, Tamra & Jim
The weather was so warm and
many people were outside watching the eclipse and
fireworks, laughing, telling old stories and having a
fun time. Later, a birthday cake was presented - with 60
candles (!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!) - and everyone sang and then the dessert
portion of the evening commenced.
Everything was just perfect. Any hiccup the kids were worried about did not happen... or if it
did, we did not know!
Cousins: Lisa and Carla
Sadly, the evening had to end. Our friends went home, but family
remained. There may have
been an after-party back at our house. Not saying... but
Leo said he had a dream that his godmother, Angela, came
into his bedroom and kissed him during the
Dave and I can't thank the Lovely Lisa and Lenny enough
for this huge surprise! Now that we realize the
massive effort it took (from Los Angeles!) for them to host this party and are
hearing all the funny (intricate) back-stories, it only makes us love and appreciate them more.
Our kids are the best! I
we I will be writing a lot of thank you cards next week,
but especially want to thank those who sent videos and to everyone who traveled so far to share in this
happy occasion. Dave and I are blessed with a great group of loving people who
have been close with us for years and years... and years and years. Apparently,
60 years! Overwhelmed with joy and happiness.
Until my next update, I remain, your surprised correspondent.
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