Originally published June 15, 2012
On Wednesday morning, during my shift as a volunteer at the Cancer Centre, we learned that it was Margaret’s 75th Birthday. Margaret is a retired nurse who volunteers at the Cancer Centre on Wednesday afternoons. Margaret and her very good friend Hilary, who is also a retired nurse, take the “Comfort Cart” (coffee, tea, hot chocolate and snacks) around to patients in the various clinics within the Centre. Both of these women are loved by patients and staff alike – they are always smiling and quick to comfort anyone in need of a hug. Every week I look forward to seeing Margaret and Hilary arrive for their afternoon shifts – and race to exchange hugs with each of them. I really love these girls – they are like family to me. I also have the same feelings for Dianne and Vivian, also retired nurses, who volunteer on the Comfort Cart on Monday mornings – and I race to hug each of them too!
Hugs are special. To me, they are a form of expression that acknowledges both a fondness and respect for the other person. You’ll always know when giving a hug is appropriate – it’s usually when you extend your hand to give a handshake and it feels awkward. Hugs only feel awkward when the person you are trying to hug just wants to shake your hand – or runs away from you screaming in terror! The best hugs are accompanied by whispering in the other person’s ear – things like: so great to see you again OR it’s been too long OR you look wonderful OR missed you OR can I borrow 5 bucks?
“But Danny, what’s this got to do with A Love Story? Hugging is for sissies – men don’t hug – period. And by the way, what qualifies you to write about Love?”
Patience Corky, patience!
Anyway, we decided to give Margaret a hastily-arranged birthday party – but we wanted it to be a surprise – which would be difficult because Margaret reads a lot of mystery novels and is always “on guard” against secretive and/or deviant behavior. Few people know that Agatha Christie fashioned her Miss Marple character after Margaret.
Fast forward: We were able to surprise Margaret during the afternoon coffee break. After Margaret blew out the candles, she told us the following wonderful story:
She and her husband Cam decided to spend last Saturday doing some shopping in Vancouver. Before leaving their home in White Rock, Cam suggested that they pack a few clothes in case they had a long day and became too tired for the return drive home.
Margaret then described their arriving in the city and Cam pulling up to the luxurious Wedgewood Hotel.
She remained in the car while Cam went into the hotel – she’s not sure why or what he was doing but she enjoyed talking with a couple of the hotel staff (George Clooney look-a-likes). When Cam returned to the car he advised her that he was able to get a room and that they should check-in now. Margaret laughed as she recounted that she was wearing jeans and had only packed a very few items in the very small bag.
Soon they were in their hotel room. Within minutes, a knock at the door – it was the bellman with a bucket of ice, a bottle of champagne and glasses. Margaret said they then stood on their room’s balcony and enjoyed the sights and sounds while drinking their champagne.
A few minutes passed, when suddenly another knock at their door. Margaret wondered if Cam had ordered some room service – a romantic meal or maybe more champagne? Cam asked her to answer the door – it was her turn, after all. And while she wondered what Cam had ordered – she opened the door. She let out a scream and then the tears began to flow!
There standing in the hallway, were all of her children and grandchildren! Her daughter and son-in-law from Toronto and their kids and her son from Kelowna and his daughter had made the surprise trip to Vancouver – to celebrate Margaret’s birthday. Cam then informed that they were all going to the very posh Hawksworth Dining Room in the Rosewood Georgia Hotel for dinner. A table for eight was reserved – and the evening was magical. One of Margaret’s grandchildren said “Granny, your turning 75 Rocks!” Margaret was relieved that she had packed a suitable dress – but then again, it would have been a great excuse to buy a new dress and shoes from one of Vancouver’s trendy boutiques……
The following morning, they all gathered for breakfast in the Bacchus Room. Soon after, a stretch limo arrived at the Hotel to take her kids and grand kids to the Airport for their return home. They had all journeyed that far – for just one night – to be with their Mother and Granny on her birthday! And Cam had lovingly planned every single detail of this surprise celebration without Margaret having a clue!
And that to me is a wonderful Love Story.
And that’s why it is always so special to hug and be hugged by Margaret – one of my Best Friends Forever!
And Margaret, you most definitely Rock!