Birthday blues and celebration

Eleven a.m. on my birthday, I stood at the windows of the Little Rock Airport, watching clouds warp around the plane carrying my second son to graduate school. Two sons, one daughter-in-love and the grandbaby were in New Orleans on my day of days.

My husband’s major plans for the rest of the day were to visit hardware shops and lumber yards, price tools and look for new building ideas. I dragged along and slumped on stacks of boxes while he talked shop. He bought nothing, except a late lunch for the two of us at a fast food joint. After we finished eating, I called to check on my daughter. Her fathers asked to speak with her, turned his back to me and whispered into the phone. I reckoned he was telling her to fix me a birthday supper.
I slept, my husband drove to the music and stories of Garrison Keillor’s Saturday night radio program.

No birthday supper welcomed me. Neither my third son nor my daughter was home. After a long, wearing day, I entered a cluttered house and cold kitchen. I was stirring rice and sautéing onions when my daughter called from the church, “I got in trouble. You and Dad have to come and talk with them.”
“What did you do?”
“They said you have to come and talk with them.”
“All right. We’ll be there in bit.”
I went to tell my husband. “Our daughter got into trouble at church tonight. We both have to go to church to talk with them.” I turned off the stove and walked out to the car. he followed, pulling on his jacket. “Are you sure I have to go?”
“She said both of us have to come. What would you do otherwise?”
“Stay here and work.”
“I guess the work will wait.”
As we drove to church, he brooded over the possibilities of what she had done that we both had to go in and talk, “What do you think she did? Do you suppose she got carried away after her date Friday night? Have we been letting her do too much by herself without supervising her closely enough?”

It had already been a long day and I did not want to play the misery game. “Yeah, right. I figure she went out, got a keg of beer, a carton of cigarettes, called in all her friends and they had a good ole time, right there at church. Yep, that’s it.”
We rode the rest of the way in silence.

At the church, my birthday was topped off by the sight of my daughter under the canopy light, slumped against the wall, head buried under her arms in shames as a very tall man, who used to be my friend, stood guard over her.
Taking a deep breath, I got out of the van and walked toward them.

The man soberly motioned to the church door, “OK let’s go in and talk with the otherwise.”
I braced myself to deal with the unknown others and my daughter’s ‘crime.’

He opened the door for us to go in. The room exploded with lights and shouts of “Surprise!” My first and third sons, grandbaby in daughter-in-loves’ arms, friends and employer stepped out from their hiding places and helped close my birthday on a happier note than it had started.