IT’S ONE BIG SURPRISE
The excitement is torture. Knowing that the two people who mean more to me than life itself, my Mum and Dad, are sitting in an airport lounge, mere metres away. I know it. But they haven’t a clue!
At first it was just supposed to be a surprise holiday, for my Mum’s big birthday. The initial surprise element has just been revealed as they proceeded to the check-in desk… ‘Bridgetown‘ said the assistant. ‘Barbados?!!’ My dad is overjoyed and my mum overwhelmed. Neither of them have been there. The closest they’ve got is St Lucia or Jamaica.
But the biggest (or smallest) surprise is yet to come, on board the plane…hopefully.
I’ve been talking to them over the phone all morning sharing the nerves, anticipation and nail-biting excitement, as they set off from home in the early hours without an incline of where they were headed. My mum tried every trick last night to coax it out of me…she even threw a strop and hung up the phone proclaiming the impossibility of packing for an unknown destination. It didn’t work. This time, for the first time, I was keeping the surprise a surprise. So this morning I’ve been on the phone pretending to be at home.
The seconds are ticking away. The final call for the flight to Barbados. I give them a quick call to check they’ve boarded.
The surge of anticipation is almost unbearable. I’m so excited but I still haven’t planned exactly when or how to make the big revelation.
They confirm, they have boarded. Time to pack up my things and run!
I’ve spent the entire morning in a separate airport lounge sipping champagne (to pass the time, naturally), waiting anxiously. I’m about to board the very same flight as them, to join them on their surprise holiday. Mum and Dad love travelling with me. They feel more secure, have more fun and get out and see more. But they haven’t a clue I’m tagging along! And first, I need to make the flight!
Outside the lounge the departure board reads, ‘Gate Closed.’ I don’t quite believe it as my heart starts to sink into the pit of my stomach, still pounding in hope. The entire surprise could be about to be ruined. If I miss this flight, they’ll never know but, instead of sunning myself in Barbados, I’ll be stuck at home knowing I was meant to be elsewhere.
Gate 53. Right, surely that’s not too far. Why am I this late? Because, to keep the surprise, I wanted to be sure they had boarded so they wouldn’t bump into me or spot me at the gate. Gate 53 is in sight…and a final few are still trickling through.
Phew! I’ve made it and I AM getting on the plane. I’ve taken great care to book seats as separate as possible (my excuse to fly a different class). But walking down the aisle to my seat, I spot my Dad’s head just further down. I throw myself into my seat and sink as low as I can. I can’t help but peak over my shoulder a few times to eye them. What must the passenger next to me make of my shifty behaviour?
I decide to risk one final phone call between passenger announcements,
‘Have a great trip, enjoy yourselves, be sure to hire a car and see the island, make the most of it. I really miss you. Wish I was there! Byeeeeee’
ON BOARD & OVER-EXCITABLE
It’s confirmed. They truly have no idea! The butterflies of nerves and excitement swirling about my tummy are now wild out of control. I did it! It all worked out exactly as I’d hoped (there aren’t many occasions in my life when that happens!)
So the big question now is, when to do ‘The Big Reveal?’ What will be their reaction? I just can’t imagine how utterly shocked they’ll be! And how will they contain themselves, on a packed flight? Thinking about it, I keep wanting to let out a little squeal of excitement. I must be the worst neighbour on the plane, fidgeting and twitching. ‘Calm yourself now, Anisha’ I scold myself sternly. In a bid to occupy my mind, I strike up conversation with my neighbouring passenger. But i’m too anxious to speak of anything else . He thinks my idea is hilarious and wants to see the moment of revelation. He fears my parents may not be so pleased to know I’m tagging along all week. How dare he?! I do see the humour, though.
Before I know it, we’ve taken off and drinks are being served. Go on then, just one more for Dutch courage! Several drinks and an entire meal later, I decide to hold off the surprise for as long as possible. So I put on a movie. I should have known, it’s a tear-jerker. And it centres on family values. Sniffling, eyes red from tiredness and now film sorrow, I can’t wait anymore. The moment is here and now. I want to hug them! Up I get.
THE BIG REVEAL
Behind the curtain, I spot them, reclined but awake. And that very moment, my Mum’s eyes glance up. Her mouth gapes open and doesn’t close again for some time. Her big brown eyes widen in sheer disbelief. She raises her hands to her face and looks utterly confused. Nudging my Dad, he looks up and is just dazed. He simply doesn’t believe his eyes. It doesn’t sink in. He is in disbelief and, I think, in shock. My mum first smiles, but as I approach, closer, the smile evolves to confused rage!
‘Hi Mum, hi Dad!’
‘What the heck are you doing here?’ My mum is always first to speak. ‘Surprise!’ is my lame and over-excited response. She jumps up to hug me trying to get all her words out at once. My Dad is quiet. He’s still stunned.
‘Is it really you?’ he whispers, puzzled. I throw my arms around him. He gives me the warmest hug back. That says it all.
After a few minutes explaining how I put the entire surprise together and arranged it all, only now it begins to dawn on my Mum that I’m going to be in Barbados with them. Not just for the flight. I’ll be there with them, on holiday, the entire week, and will return with them. As it sinks in, she flashes the most beautifully genuine and happy smile. She’s radiant and beaming. This is all I’d hoped for. In this moment, I know I did the right thing. I’m glad I kept the surprise and I’m infinitely chuffed at the thought of spending precious time away with them. These moments and memories are so special. We’ll remember them for eternity. To me, I already know that they’ll one day be the ones upon which I look back with immeasurable fondness and infinite joy. Their happiness makes it so so worth while and ultimately, priceless. (Plus, I get to tag along and use it as an excuse to visit Barbados again!)
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