I stand there. Stuck for words – a possible first – as over thirty of you fill the tables in Capone’s restaurant. Smiles, laughter, merriness, cheer – endless.
I stop. I question my gratitude towards life. I’m still choked for words. Far from an imbecile, I stutter, ‘thank you’ – several times – like one who has just developed a speech impediment. Shock!
I pause. I question my vanity. Everything that is unfolding before me is down to Geraldine. We all know it.
Grace filled – Giving – Genuine – Grand – Geraldine from Galway.
So many cards to play, this is only Geraldine’s first hand dealt. Cleverly, she has lured me here under the pretence that we are having a private meal. I’m stunned. It’s a surprise party to begin my 40th year.
Life begins at forty, they say – no longer a loosely used phrase – it is now reality.
Geraldine is not fazed. She mingles easily. “Happy?” she asks me with a smile that could make anyone weak. “Yes,” I nod. I wonder if this is actually real.
Astounded – amazed – astonished – overwhelmed – dazed – bewildered – how on earth did she get this together without my knowing?
Laughter increases – the food arrives – the wine flows – Happy Birthday is sung – gifts – Irish coffee’s – balloons – I blow the candles out. I am again two-years-old. She had even thought about hacking my Facebook account to access my friends in Cork. We all laugh. I wouldn’t put it past her. I bet she tried! Does everyone in the world have a friend like this?
Generous – Gallant – Gifted – Gracious – Geraldine from Galway!
I settle. I finally manage a speech. It is all down to the people of Galway. I mean every word of it. Should I dare even mention Geraldine’s name, I think I’ll cry. I don’t risk it. The birthday girl is over the moon. I’m too happy to shed a tear. I’m beaming.
Geraldine is cool out. The organisation is incredible. I am as happy as a pig in shite. Glowing – she has turned me into a princess.
I am no princess. It is she that is the queen – our queen of hearts – a woman who has single-handedly brought us all together. And what a massive crew it is!
Further proof of the pudding is in surprise party number two – off to Mary Dolan’s house. Mary is not at the meal. She is too busy putting up banners, balloons, organising more food, a bar, getting the band set up as she opens up her house to the follow up celebrations.
It is midnight. “Get into Joey’s car,” Geraldine instructs. It’s okay, apparently everyone is following too. “Where are we going?” I wonder. No one will tell me.
Mary Dolan is waving outside her house as I arrive. The band is ready. The gig starts. Singing – dancing – story telling – is there even more people here?
Food, beer, wine – 4am Mary is cooking again – chicken wings, sausages, and two more cakes. Happy Birthday Joey and Mairéad. I might be short but Joey is shorter 😉 He loves me to say that.
But are Geraldine and Mary actually secret agents? Joey insists he knows nothing.
Great – Glamorous – Gentle – Gorgeous – Geraldine from Galway.
Massive laughter – the band plays on – mighty and grand – it is Richard’s band – the craic is soaring – lanterns glow in the garden – Time has stopped. Bed time comes at 7 am.
But it is okay, Tom is making me lunch the next day. And then a hike in Connemara on Sunday – how can any other birthday ever live up to this?
The calibre of the people in Galway; the light of the weekend. Glorious – and a Goddess – Geraldine from Galway.
The Galway homeless shelter now enjoys the cakes, I am as proud as punch as I join their volunteers. What a massive way to start this decade.
Yet with all my (and our) gratitude – one in seven billion – Geraldine – regal through and through – a lady. Not any ole’ Galway girl. She is the Queen of Galway. The Ace of Spades.
Feel free to leave comments below 🙂
Life is about what we give. And that is the essence of spirituality.
Geraldine Curran is the founder of the Galway Social Club. Upcoming club events may be found at http://www.meetup.com/Galway-Social-Club/ or email Geraldine at email@example.com.
Mairéad Whyte is an Irish author who is the co-organiser of the Galway Social Club, more information at www.maireadwhyte.com