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Chasing The American Dream

December 26, 2006


She came to her front door expecting to see the UPS man delivering her birthday package. I hatched the sneaky plan and it had worked flawlessly to that point. It had been the roughest of times for my mom. It had been almost two years to the day since her beloved Basset Hound died. Losing a pet that you’ve had 10-plus years isn’t easy. I knew what it felt like. Luckily, mom got a puppy and formed a close relationship with her. Life’s cruel. She had the puppy for about a year. A few weeks ago, the doggie got sick and died suddenly. Mom was devastated. Inconsolable. To top it off, she had to move out of her place under more difficult circumstances and had two weeks to do so. I knew what I had to do but didn’t tell her.

Our relationship was never the closest. But after 42 years, the divorced changed all that. She came through and supported me like never before, and I was forever grateful. Things have been great since then. I’ve really not had much chance to ‘repay’ her. I surprised the hell out of her on her 70th birthday showing up unannounced on her Vermont doorstep. After hearing about the dog, I knew it was time for a reprise especially since it was her birthday in two days. My sister picked me up from the airport. I called mom from the car acting like it was a typical Saturday morning in Miami. I told mom that I’d been tracking her birthday present via UPS and told her that I knew her present was going to arrive and for her to look out for it. I told her it was something a little different and that I thought she’d really like it. My sister could hardly keep from laughing.

I rang the doorbell which prompted my sister to yell at mom telling her the package must be here. She opened the door and I shouted, “Surprise!” She stood there motionless, a stunned look on her face like she’d just seen something that just couldn’t be real. A good minute went by before reality finally set in. I was her birthday present. She cried and hugged me. Moments like that make life worthwhile. And for the next three days, I did my best to get her out of her funk. We packed boxes, moved stuff to her storage place, visited her new house, went out to eat for her birthday, and shared a walk downtown together even stopping by my old restaurant. And then we topped it all off with a great homemade birthday dinner and cake for her and my niece. It was great to see her smiling again and moving on though difficult as it was. If she didn’t know before, I think she now knows she can count on me for anything. Nothing could make me happier.


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