Agnes Lloyd had never celebrated her birthday in all her years on this Earth, and her 70th was getting close. On the day of, she pretended it was just a typical day until she walked out to her car and heard someone shockingly yelling her name. She never imagined what would happen next.
“When’s your birthday, Mrs. Lloyd?” one of the students, Christian, asked Agnes suddenly. They had finished the entire lesson quicker than she expected, and they were discussing other topics of conversation, which she encouraged this one time. But she was caught off guard by Christian’s question.
Her birthday was not a pleasant topic at all. She hadn’t celebrated it in her almost 70 years, which was a sore subject for her. Her parents didn’t care about birthdays and didn’t have the money for presents either way. When she married her late husband at 18, they focused on studying and making a good life for themselves, so they disregarded most celebrations too.
Then their kids came along and were always the main focus. Agnes was sure that none of her children even knew the exact date of her birth, and maybe that was her fault for not making them put in the effort. But after so many years, she just let it go. It was easier than being disappointed.
The thought made her smile as she walked in the street toward the parking lot when a sudden yell startled her. “MRS. LLOYD!” the sound reverberated, and she dropped her purse from the fright.
“Well, my birthday is not important, guys. I don’t really celebrate it all,” she told her students, scrunching her nose and shaking her head.
“But you have to celebrate it. How old are you turning this year?” Christian inquired, and the others laughed a bit. He looked around the class, confused. “What? Is that rude?”
“It’s a little rude to ask how old an older woman is. But I’ll tell you. I’m turning 70 this year, and it’s just going to be another regular day,” she replied, laughing at Christian’s innocence.
“That’s a big milestone! Are your children coming?” another student chimed in, and Agnes shook her head. Her children had their own lives now, and they never did anything for her birthday.
“No, they’re busy. And I don’t even think they remember my birthday. But what kind of birthday parties do young people have these days?” Agnes asked, distracting them from her birthday. They took the bait and soon started discussing all kinds of parties and themes that are popular nowadays. Agnes breathed a sigh of relief and smiled at the kids.
The class ended, and the rest of her day went on as usual. But the subject of her birthday hurt her heart that night. Her husband died many years ago, and although they didn’t celebrate, hugging him on her birthday was always great. Now, she was alone, and nothing seemed to matter.
Her birthday came, and the day at school went normally. It was a pleasant day in Seattle, and she was even glad her students did not dig into the matter because her birthday information was readily available on her online profile. But still, she hoped someone would care. Hope was the worst of it.
Her kids hadn’t called either. She had not heard from them in a while, which was disheartening. She wished they would call just to check up on her even if they didn’t remember her birthday.
The last bell of the day rang, and she picked up her purse from her desk and walked slowly towards her car. She was planning on buying herself a cheesecake as a treat, although her doctors don’t recommend it for her age. But who cares? It was her birthday, and she deserved it.
The thought made her smile as she walked on the street towards the parking lot when a sudden yell startled her. “MRS. LLOYD!” the sound reverberated, and she dropped her purse from the fright. Agnes looked around and was shocked by what she saw.
Her students, some faculty, and the school staff were standing in the parking lot carrying birthday signages. She had been so deep in thought that she had not noticed them before, but her mouth opened in shock as she realized they had prepared such a surprise for her. Christian came over, picked up her purse, and guided her towards the rest as they all started singing Happy Birthday.
Her smile widened, her surprise and delight evident as the song continued. Moisture gathered in her eyes. She had no idea how they had planned this. She flinched again as they finished the song, and popping sounds sent little confetti flying all over the place. But that wasn’t the best part.
Some of the students parted, and her children, Kiara, Linda, and Jordan, stepped out holding a birthday cake with two candles that formed the number 70. “Happy birthday, Mom!” they exclaimed together, and that’s when Agnes lost her composure for the first time.
Her children came closer to comfort her, and after a few minutes, they urged her to blow out the candles and make a wish. Everyone cheered as she did it – her first candle blow in 70 years.
All the students came to greet her and give her hugs, and the faculty followed suit. They divided the cake, and soon enough, everyone started to go home, except her kids.
“You guys! How did this happen? What are you doing here?” Agnes finally asked her children.
“The principal called us and said that your students were planning this little surprise for you. That it was going to be a small and quick thing, but they wondered if we wanted to come,” Linda explained.
“Linda called to ask me if I wanted to go, and that’s when we realized we had never celebrated your birthday. Ever. Ever. We called Jordan, and he couldn’t remember if we had either,” Kiara chimed in.
“We’re so sorry, Mom. We should’ve celebrated and called and checked in. It’s not a good feeling when you realize that your mother’s students care more for her than you. So we had to come,” Jordan explained, shrugging his shoulders.
“Oh, kids, it’s ok!” Agnes told them, bringing all of them in for a hug.
“This is not over, though. Our kids are at your house, and they decorated it. We’re resuming this party at home because 70 is a milestone you can’t miss!” Linda proclaimed, mimicking some dancing, and the sheer happiness of that moment with her children made Agnes’ heart swell with joy.
The family at home had food, music, and presents ready for the older woman. As they danced, ate, and shared love around her living room, Agnes thought that if she had to wait another 70 years for something like this, she would do it in a heartbeat.