Posted by: christinelaennec | September 29, 2012

Another celebration

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.

Shopping for party supplies with the Dafter

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.

Blowing up balloons while we wait for guests to arrive. (I did put the mending basket and hot-water-bottle away – )

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:

Michael is still trying to get to grips with the fact that he won’t get the bathroom painted today after all!

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:

Michael pouring champagne (in the wrong kind of glass, I know, but nevermind)!  We had cake as well – two, in fact.

Our friends kindly offered to take a photo of us:

family photo, 29 Sept 2012

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!



  1. Your posts are always so heart-warming Christine! This is another lovely one – great stuff. Well done you, the Dafter and chums, and a very happy birthday Michael!

  2. What a great surprise! I love the look on his face! 🙂 xx

  3. How wonderful! What a special girl you have to organize all that, and manage to make all of those things. Well done and congratulations!! xxxxxxx

  4. What a beautiful story. There really is nothing as wonderful as creating a special occasion for a loved one. Thank you so much for sharing that story with us. All the best, Judy.

  5. Yes, thanks so much for sharing the surprise with us, Christine! I had a wonderful time! I especially love the pictures of Dafter shopping and the three of you at the party. We had the fun of hiding a young CA friend who came to help my youngest daughter with some pre-wedding celebration this weekend. My daughter was happily surprised and we all are having a good visit. Continued joy to you and yours, xxx from Gracie

  6. Happy Birthday (a bit late) to Michael. I just love when surprises work out and it sounds like the Dafter totally pulled this one off! Hope she gets some good rest in now that all the partying is over!

  7. I’m so glad your party went off well! For all her horrible suffering with ME it is so nice to see the Dafter with happy expressions on her face in the photos. I know it means people don’t really believe she is as ill as she is, but it cheers me up, as a reader, to see her looking happy anyway!

  8. what a great post! well done to you all, especially your lovely daughter. i am sure that will be a special memory for you all in years to come. the picture of the three of you is really nice. happy birthday, Michael.

  9. Such a nice party for Michael (Happy Birthday to you, Michael!), and what makes it even better is the love and preparation that went into it, especially from the Dafter despite her illness. Lovely and heartwarming photos of a loving family on a special day. Michael’s expression is worth all the effort, I’m sure! So wonderful to see your daughter enjoying herself, and she looks charming in her little dress. xx

  10. Such a great story Christine, I can feel your delight and pride coming through. It’s great that your plotting and scheming came through so successfully, and such a huge achievement for your dafter.defintiely a time for some fizz!!

  11. An uplifting post, Christine, despite the dafter’s obvious struggle. Nicely rounded off with a happy, smiling family photo. Inspiring.

  12. What a lovely surprise for Michael and well done the Dafter for organising it.
    Happy Michaelmas indeed xx

  13. I love the picture of Michael holding his jaw, trying to absorb what your two pulled off. Well done Dafter and Christine! Happy Birthday (from North Carolina) Michael!

  14. A big thank you to everyone for sharing our excitement, and for all your well-wishes. It was a very memorable occasion – almost like magic, really. The whole really was greater than the sum of its parts. Yes, I was hugely proud of the Dafter.

    Heather, you’re so right about people coming to conclusions based on glimpsing the Dafter able to function normally for an hour just because she’s high on sugar and excitement. But equally, I see the look of horror on people’s faces when they see her in the wheelchair, and I think – no really, it isn’t nearly so bad as you suppose! I guess the lesson is that we need to let go of what other people think because a lot of time they will not really understand.

    Cathy and Tina, yes, I loved that photo of Michael still completely amazed. It speaks volumes.

    Gracie, so we weren’t the only ones being sneaky!

    Thanks to you all again –

  15. I thought this was just such a lovely surprise, all the fun lead up with the planning and keeping a secret and just pulling it off. You do look all so happy.

    Thank you for the lovely comment you left for me.

    Lil Bit Brit

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