Excerpt from not exactly as Planned
Grahame, sometime tuba player, more regularly TV’s Guerilla Gardener, yelled out “Hit it folks.” On cue, a chorus of voices and instruments belted out “Happy Birthday” to welcome our baby as the community’s newest member.
Robin was speechless. I was not. I was crying and waving, pointing, hugging and screaming. I worked my way through the crowd like a campaigning politician, pointing at everyone and making whatever physical contact I could while yelling out their names.
“Oh, look, Robin, little Lizzie and Hanne too,” I said, pointing at the children. They were standing with red and white helium balloons drifting upwards from the colourful ribbons their parents had fastened to their wrists.
As it was a sunny spring day in May, I had dressed that morning in a pastel floral skirt and lacey white blouse for the occasion, assuming that’s what you wore in spring, out for a stroll, showing off your new baby in your English pram.
From the docks, we walked along the path by the lagoon, past the freshly painted community clubhouse surrounded by aging black willows. Everyone took turns pushing and cooing at Michael. He remained content under the blankets, still asleep in his soft blue hospital outfit.
We marched onward, artfully dodging the ubiquitous green guano from the Canada geese gobbling grass along the knoll leading to a string of sailboats moored in the lagoon, and winding our way past the old fire hall and playground. We were almost home, all that was left was to cross the wooden bridge to take us from Ward’s Island to Algonquin.
I paused momentarily when we reached the flattened crest of the bridge. It was my favourite spot, where I marked changes in the seasons during the thirteen years I had lived on the Island. Even with Robin nudging me on, I stopped, looking west along the lagoon, hoping to see the tufted crewcut of my favourite bird, the kingfisher, and then down the bridge at the enormous pink-bloomed weigela in front of my friend Barbara’s house.
“Keep moving,” Robin called out, noticing my descent into never-never land. “Only a little way more.”
We would be home when we spotted the tree house in the cottonwood in our front yard. The graying hand-built structure was a replica of a traditional South African elephant lookout, built to scale by the South African architect who lived with his family in the house before us.
We arrived. The Arythmics noisily marched us past the apricot-coloured tulips, up our fieldstone pathway – all with great glee, silliness and a wee bit of pretend pomp. We weaved along until we reached the front porch.
We were greeted there by a huge hand-lettered and festooned poster board. It must have been hung on our front door while we were at the hospital collecting our son. I couldn’t read it through my tears, so I asked Robin to read it aloud.
“Welcome Home Michael Asher Rosenbaum Christmas,” he said. “We love you.”