Once upon a time (two months ago) someone got an idea, and she shared it with her cousin who whole heartedly agreed and the idea turned into a plan, and the plan grew. It got big enough to include me, which normally wouldn’t have been a bad thing except this was to be a surprise and I can’t remember to keep my thoughts to myself (if I ever could).

I was afraid I’d say something to give it away so I started avoiding the two people for whom the surprise was for, which made me a little sad. But being sneaky is second nature to me so that part was really fun. 

Then these two (my nieces) asked me for pictures of my younger sisters when they were little (oops! I told you I couldn’t keep a secret. Rats!) I quickly poured through all my albums and was surprised at how many I had, including one of dad holding both of them as babies, one in each arm — and I am at my father’s feet — clutching his pant leg. I treasure this picture because it shows our life when I was too young to actually remember this and I’m so glad someone took the picture. I only recently received it from a relative even though it was taken 60 years ago. (Oops, there I go again.)

However, my nieces wanted one picture in particular, a black and white 8- by 10-inch of my sisters that sat in a double frame opposite me. I didn’t figure they’d want my puss included so I laid the frame face down on the soft couch and removed the back, then a hunk of corrugated cardboard, a piece of paper that must have come with the frame, and finally the photo. I carefully inserted each piece right back into the frame just as it had come out, all the while wondering how I would handle their picture being gone, leaving me all alone on the shelf. 

I went to put it back and as I opened the frame so it would stand up, I nearly jumped out of my skin. I wasn’t alone! That piece of paper that I had slid back in — the one that must have come with the frame — was a brightly colored picture of Ricardo Montalban, a handsome movie actor of his era. I am not pleased. I want my sisters beside me again. It was promised to me that copies would be made and brought back, but I’m getting impatient because Ricardo is undressing me with his eyes.

Next was the guest list … could I round up friends that they (my nieces) didn’t know about. That would mainly include friends from childhood — and I would be opening my home to out of town guests. Each person I found had to be sworn to secrecy but I just know someone is going to slip. I hope it isn’t me. 

When I invited people from the church that one of the sisters and I go to, I was told they were having a chicken barbeque the day of the party (sigh). I saw my sister eyeballing the sign-up sheet for it and ran to find the ringleader to let her know that if my sister signed up for something they’d have to find someone else to cover it. Then I called my niece and suggested she get her ruse in action before it was too late. (Whew!)

Our far away sister is coming for it. I can’t count how many times I almost said “When Bev gets here … ” in front of them, then I’d pinch myself and pretend I was wheezing. They think I should see a doctor about it. 

I can’t wait for this party to happen because it’s going to be so fun, but the stress of secrecy is likely to kill me. 

debbiehough@hotmail.com

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