7 Years Ago….


It has been 7 years since I planned the party of a lifetime for my Mom to celebrate her 60th Birthday. And seeing as it’s her birthday again, I thought it would be fun to walk down memory lane and retell this fun story.

My mom has always had one favorite musician named Don Francisco. We grew up listening to his incredible Biblical ballads like I Don’t Care Where You’ve Been Sleeping and He’s Alive. And I knew that if Mom could see anyone in concert, she’d want to be in Don’s audience someday.

With her 60th birthday approaching, I thought it would be fun to see if I could get her tickets to a Don Francisco concert. But a quick trip to his website showed me that Colorado was as far west as he usually visits. At first, I contemplated putting together a vacation package to get my parents to Colorado, but then I saw a link on the website that said “Host a Concert” and I thought to myself, “I’m sure there is no way I could afford this, but it might not hurt to ask.”

So, I filled out the online form and figured I wouldn’t hear anything back (because musicians would never take a request seriously to attend a random person’s 60th birthday, right?)

Sent: January 7, 2008 1:02 AM
To: Don & Wendy Francisco
Subject: concert question

Hello ~
My parents have been huge fans of your music for at least 25 years.  They own all of the music that they can get their hands on and my mom has been trying to figure out whether you’ll be in concert that is a drivable distance away from them as they live in Battle Ground, Washington. 
My mom turns 60 in April and I’m curious as to what the costs would be for a special concert for her.  It would truly make one of her lifelong dreams come true…..and while I’m pretty sure it would be beyond our means, I would like to know.  She has been such an awesome Mom and I would like to see if there is any possibility of making her year (and likely decade!)

The very next day, I received an email back from Don Francisco’s wife, Wendy. I was almost too scared to open it. Surely, she was going to laugh at my meager request.

From: Don and Wendy Francisco
Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2008 10:15 AM
Subject: Re: concert question
Don will be in the Portland area April 4-6… how close are you to that??  Maybe we can do a livingroom concert???
Don’s honorarium is usually $xxxx  but maybe we can work something creative out….. if you didn’t mind doing it a bit early.  Like say, Monday the 7th??? 🙂

Whoa…..really? Did I just read that right? “Maybe we could work something creative out?” WHAT?????? This would be like the Beatles coming to my Mom’s living room! I don’t think Don Francisco had any idea that he would be encountering one of his most devoted fans.

Over the course of the next month, Wendy & I chatted on and off again about the creative solution which, when I look back, still seemed impossible. Of course, at the very thought that this might be possible, I would probably have given up a limb or two to make this happen (or at least max out a credit card, if needed).The sheer thought that this might be in reach was really incredible.

We made travel arrangements, booked a hotel, and rented audio speakers in order to make the night perfect. One of my coworkers even came out to my parents’ house to help me set up the audio equipment because I had no idea as to what to do (fortunately, he was in a band and knew just what to do!)

Next, we had to rope my dad into the plans, because we needed to clear out their living room to make space for the musical instruments and her friends. I asked my dad to make a copy of her friends list so that we could send out invitations and about 50 of her friends nearly immediately RSVP’ed for the party. Since my parents’ anniversary was a few days before her birthday, Dad figured out a plan to take her out to dinner for their anniversary.

Now my mom is pretty smart. She had clued into the fact that a party was going to occur at her house. I think she overheard my dad talking to his sister (my aunt). But she figured it would be the typical family affair that included a Costco cake and family members coming over to provide their well-wishes. I wasn’t too worried. She would NEVER believe that Don Francisco would be in her living room (even if I had joked about it prior to the event).

As you can see from the video below, she was surprised. In fact, she told me later that she thought I had hired a Don Francisco impersonator to be at her party. But as she walked in and looked at the CD’s sitting on her bench, she just couldn’t believe what she was seeing. To this day, she probably couldn’t recall the playlist, but she and my Dad were all smiles throughout the whole event.

But the surprises were not over yet…

When I initially made contact with Wendy Francisco, I had no idea that I was pregnant with my 2nd child. But as the arrangements moved along to make this concert happen, I also figured out that this would be nearly the perfect time to let her know that we were expecting again.

Ironically, when we announced we were pregnant with our first child, we were also celebrating her birthday at a restaurant. In order to announce our first child, we gift-wrapped a spring-like pregnant teddy bear (that looked pretty perfect for Easter). It took some explaining the first time because she didn’t initially realize that the bear was pregnant, but we had a “due date” tag on the bear and so, it was a fun way to share the news.

In the video below, you’ll see that we wrapped up the same bear (that still sits in her dining room to this day) and put a new due date tag on the bear. We asked Don Francisco to close the concert with the song “Lullaby.”  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house as our little girl delivered the gift to my parents. I still get weepy, watching these two videos.

The lyrics to Lullaby have always been some of my favorite:
Darkness covers all the land — sounds of day are gone;
But love is all around you now and will be ’till the dawnStars shine on the window sill, the moon shines through the trees;
Angels by your bed tonight — shine where no one sees.So there’s no need to be afraid all the whole night through
‘Cause God has made a promise child, that He’ll take care of you.

Stars shine on the window sill, the moon shines through the trees; 

Angels by your bed tonight — shine where no one sees.

All that you’ve been dreamin’ of awaits you when you rise;
So with the peace that Jesus brings close your sleepy eyes.

Happy Birthday, Mom!  You’re still pretty awesome…..and I’m starting to feel the pressure that I only have 3 years to plan your 70th. Some ideas on the table include putting up the Cirque Du Soleil tent on your lawn or putting you up in a hot air balloon. But honestly, I probably can’t ever top your 60th.

We love you and your two special grandchildren can’t wait to celebrate with you later today!

3 Comments to "7 Years Ago…."

  1. Sandy Carpenter's Gravatar Sandy Carpenter
    April 11, 2015 - 11:31 pm | Permalink

    That was so beautiful, I started crying when your mom did! Best daughter ever!

  2. Barbara Rutherford's Gravatar Barbara Rutherford
    April 12, 2015 - 12:52 am | Permalink

    Cheryl thank you for the blog today. This is the first time I have seen the videos. Have a great time later and my love to the family.

  3. tom savage's Gravatar tom savage
    April 12, 2015 - 1:57 am | Permalink

    Happy birthday auntie Elsie x love from all of us x what a special day that must have been. Enjoy your celebrations x see you soon x

Comments are closed.