Many years ago, my grandfather told me that he had been told by a swami in Pakistan that his end of life would be at 94 years of age. He had been in Pakistan on a UN peacekeeping tour in 1967. As he is getting on in years, and less mobile, I decided that I would surprise him with a visit on his 92nd birthday. It would also be the first time that he would meet my wife, and although I had asked my children to join us, they claimed they were not available. So we made plans to have a romantic getaway and visit my grandfather at the same time.
So, in September, my wife and I headed to the Ottawa airport to catch a flight to Naples, Florida. It appeared to be the season of surprises because as we were checking in, my youngest son came up behind us and said that he had changed his mind, and was coming along for the vacation too. Our romantic vacation turned into a family vacation in an instant…Surprise!
I nervously anticipated my grandfather’s reaction to my wife. As it turned out, my nervousness was for not as the first words out of his mouth once he had met my wife for the first time were “You can leave your slippers under my bed anytime!”
For the next two days, I could only have my grandfather’s attention if we were alone. Thankfully, my son was there to keep me company.
My grandfather insisted that he introduce us to his friends at his favourite social club: The Elks. This was the perfect time to get even with my grandfather (a.k.a. the prankster) by referring to the giant Elk head at their club as a Moose head. The playful banter went downhill from there, although the other members of the Elk did invite us back anytime. Not sure whether my grandfather is allowed back? lol
While we were in Naples, we also made arrangements for a birthday cookie wishing my grandfather a happy 92nd birthday. On the actual day of his birthday, we took him out to dinner, and it was at that time that he indicated that he was only 91. Needless to say, we tried not to act surprised. Instead, we scrambled to fix the cake before he saw it. In the end, the cake looked like a 5-year had decorated as we tried to change the “2” to a “1”.
In true family humour, my grandfather laughed it off, and said that he managed to cheat the Swami out of another year.
We headed back to the airport, with son in tow, only to find out that he had mistakenly booked his return flight 24 hours after ours. As a starving student, I could not let him sleep overnight in the airport, and ended up forking out $200 to change his flight so he could leave with us.
As I did so, I heard my grandfather whispering to me “See you next year. You did promise me a visit on my 92nd birthday after all!”
I guess we are heading to Naples, Florida again in 2017. This time, though, I’m asking my wife to wear a turtleneck. LOL