Wendy’s Birthday: Conspiracy & Celebration

Today is Wendy’s birthday, but the celebration began on Friday with a birthday celebration in Des Moines. Well, technically the celebration began this past summer when the conspiracy of her birthday gift began. We had gone to attend the Des Moines Art Festival this past July with our friends Kevin and Becky, but there was a torrential downpour that afternoon. So, we headed to the “other” art show in town that weekend in the Varied Industries Building of the State Fairgrounds.

As we made our way through the displays we happened upon the booth of Mark and Patti Monroe Mohrenweiser from Brighton, Michigan (www.beyondletters.com) who specialize in encaustic and mixed media art. Encaustic is an ancient technique in which colored pigments are added to hot beeswax and then applied to a surface. It creates a beautiful, etherial look. You should know that Wendy is a tactile person, and it kills her not be able to touch the art at a museum. She wants to run her hands over the texture of the artwork and feel the artist’s brush strokes. When Mark invited her to run her hands over all of the artwork and feel the texture of the wax, Wendy was in heaven.

And then, from amidst her tactile heaven, Wendy saw the angel. On a field of sheet music the angel was stretched out across a stone pedestal, her head buried in her arms, in full lament. Wendy’s reaction to the angel was both immediate and emotional. I stood behind her and witnessed it. I thought she was going to cry standing there. I knew that there was something in the artwork that was connecting with something deep inside of her. She would have gladly stood and stared at it (and ran her hands over it) all day.

Even though Wendy’s birthday was six months away, I knew that Wendy needed to own this painting and it needed to hang in our new house. The real trick was how to make it happen. I needed a team of conspirators. The following day I snuck up to my office after church to call Mark and make a deal with him over the phone. I then called Taylor and asked if she could make a secret run to the fairgrounds to pick up the artwork. Taylor was living with Kevin and Becky at that time, so I brought them in on the conspiracy to secret away our lamenting angel until December. It was a long wait. As Wendy’s birthday approached I realized that the special artwork needed special wrapping and I’m terrible at wrapping gifts. So, I dropped of the artwork a couple of weeks ago with the ladies at Thistles florist here in Pella to do a special wrap job for me.

We headed to Des Moines for Wendy’s birthday celebration on Friday. She got a massage and we checked into a hotel room for the night. We headed to Django with my conspiratorial allies, Kevin and Becky, for her birthday meal and we opened a bottle of our favorite Warburn Estate shiraz  (which is now seemingly impossible to procure and only opened on very special occasions). I couldn’t hide the huge, beautifully wrapped box, of course, so Wendy was intrigued all afternoon and evening what was in it. After dinner we retired back to Kevin and Becky’s where Wendy opened her gift. I was so glad that it worked out for Kevin and Becky to watch Wendy open it since they were an integral part of making it happen. Wendy was stunned when she saw it, and I loved watching her surprise.

On Saturday we continued with Wendy’s birthday wish list which included breakfast at Cracker Barrel and a matinee movie. We went to see Big Hero 6 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Back to Pella late in the afternoon to prepare for an evening with our friends Kevin and Linda who had invited us, along with a two other couples, over for some Christmas cheer.

I needed to shave and shower before we headed to the party. When I got out of the shower I went to tell Wendy that I was out of the bathroom and it was her turn. I couldn’t find her anywhere. When I did finally locate her she was sitting curled up on the floor in the living room staring at her lamenting angel. It made me happy.

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