I went back in to wheel him up the ramp. He was undoubtedly dealing with pain in spite of the narcotics. At this point he was just happy to be spending the evening with me. But as I moved him to the table and his head lifted to look at the yard, his gaze was drawn to the back corner of the yard where his brother Craig and sister-in-law Katie jumped out and yelled the proverbial "SURPRISE.' I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take a photo of his reaction. It was beyond shock, yet the corners of his mouth began lifting. We had done it! He couldn't believe they were here, and even more, he loved it that they were here, and probably even more excited that I'd collaborated with them to pull this one over on him. I remember how moved he felt, and how grateful. He hugged them both for a very long time. It's a moment I can relive on demand. It was so special and full of so many meanings. It's treasured.
We sat around outside and talked and laughed A LOT. I made chili and cornbread that we ate al fresco as we continued our fun fest. It was an amazing day. I don't think he could have been any happier if he tried.
Knowing Mr. Body in Motion, the question was posed as to what he wanted to do for his birthday. So the next day we set off for the Lincoln Park Zoo and its neighbor the Lincoln Park Conservatory (which has always been a preferred destination for him.)
We spent the entire afternoon there there, exploring and observing the animals before heading over to the Conservatory to check out the fauna. It was a perfect day for him. We all too great care of him. I remember feeling how nice and safe it felt to be out traveling with him with Craig and Katie serious back up. The four of us have a very strong, loving, and humorous bond.
The rest of their visit we just hung out and cooked and fed our faces and talked and laughed. Our time together is always easy and always filled with laughter.
The one last surprise I had to present to him was a book I'd been putting together for months called "the ken-do dictionary" as an homage to his body-in-motion attitude. I'd solicited words from friends and family that could be used to describe him. And no one disappointed.
Click the graphic to see the book.
Nostalgic by nature, I've been thinking a lot about that weekend on this anniversary. I'm so grateful that Craig and Katie were able to come. Ken (and I) had a wonderful time with them (as usual). It was a weekend I'll never forget and will probably think about a lot. I'm not sure how I'll feel on Wednesday, but I have taken the day off and am hoping to mimic some of the activities we did last year.