Gosh, this has been a tough week ME-wise, but today we had great, great fun – having a surprise party for Michael! It was in celebration of a special occasion that does not involve a bus pass [for my American readers: in Britain you get free bus travel when you turn 60, although I will be surprised if the current government allows that to continue much longer]. The Dafter had told me at the beginning of the summer that she wanted to throw her Dad a surprise party, so for the past four months she has been surreptitiously planning and plotting. She drew up the guest list, did the invitations, and worked out the logistics. Back in June she had been hoping that her ME would be a lot better by now, which it isn’t, but we still pulled it off!
The Dafter managed to come out of the house on the day I was going to shop for supplies, and so for the first time we used one of those shopping trolleys that you clip on to the wheelchair. We had a great time and it was an unexpected bonus that she was able to pick out the food and drink for her Dad’s party. Our wonderful neighbour downstairs kindly kept it all for us for a few days.
The other extremely important thing to the Dafter was a project that took her all of the past four months, namely making a banner with 9 letters, each painted on its own square. When she was healthy, this project would have taken her an afternoon to do. With severe ME, it took many sessions, some of them cut short because by the time she had sat down with the paints, she had no more energy. However, the banner was done and assembled in time. And Michael is one of the few people who understand the significance of the work and effort behind this creation.
There have been so many occasions over the past weeks and days when the Dafter and I have worried we would give the game away – discussing our fictitious plans for this afternoon, pretending to be perfectly normal in the hours and minutes beforehand. One of the problems that ME creates is that often the Dafter can’t remember if she’s just thought something, or whether she’s actually said it, so she had to be extra careful not to even think about the party.
There was a moment just after lunch today when the Dafter and I silently put our heads in our hands, as Michael announced his intention to begin repainting the bathroom woodwork! The Dafter kindly offered to make “Wet Paint” signs, knowing we would soon be expecting many guests.
The key was to get Michael out of the house for a space of time, quite unsuspectingly. Our dear friend T stepped in with a fictitious job he needed help with, and whisked Michael off for nearly an hour. Although M has been very tired, of course he wouldn’t refuse to help a friend, so that was a sure bet. All 14 guests arrived on time, and we gathered in the living room. When we saw Michael and T coming in the gate, we all sat quietly away from the living room door. The Dafter went out to tell her Dad, very excitedly, that there was “someone to see him”.
And the look on his face! Absolute bemusement and wonderment. (I was glad that he didn’t have too great a shock, though. We oldies have to be careful about our tickers!) He just couldn’t take it in. Even when we all began unpacking the food and setting up the party, he was stunned:
I didn’t ask permission to post photos of our guests, so you’ll just have to believe me that the house was happily full. The Dafter was overwhelmed at first, as she hadn’t been around so many people she knew in well over a year, but she soon settled in and was a brilliant hostess, especially to younger guests, for whom she’d organised a separate room with games and Lego. And we grownups had champagne:
Our friends kindly offered to take a photo of us:
So even with feeling horrendous lately, the Dafter was able to organise and plan this wonderful occasion for her Dad. She was worried she would pass out with exhaustion during the party, but the sugar and the company kept her going throughout. It’s particularly nice that today is Michaelmas, the feast day of St. Michael.
So happy Michaelmas, everyone!