My twin brother, J, has been in town since 30 July, and he is staying with my partner and me in our home. It is great having him around again. All week this past week, though, he has been involved in a lot of meetings leading up to his official retirement, which was yesterday.
My partner and I were invited to attend a reception in his honor at his place of work yesterday afternoon. We knew this was going to be very special, so one of our sisters arranged a surprise for him. You see, he told his wife that he would be busy all week and that she should not plan to travel from their home in France and arrive in DC until tomorrow (Sunday), since he wouldn’t have time to spend with her during his last week of work. She bought a non-refundable air ticket that would bring her to DC on Sunday, 7 August.
Then we found out two weeks ago that his boss was going to have this reception, and a very, very special guest was going to attend it. Alas, my sister-in-law found that the cost to change her airline ticket would have been more than 500 Euro — waaaayyy too much.
However, one of our sisters arranges travel for VIP travelers in the same place where my brother works. She made some inquiries and pulled some strings, and arranged for my sister-in-law to travel on Thursday. Keeping her early visit a surprise was hard to do — but I kept my brother distracted on Thursday (so he wouldn’t phone his wife) and our sister picked up his wife at the airport and had her stay in her home that night.
Back to the reception — it was quite an affair. Several hundred people attended, which didn’t surprise me but I think my brother was in shock. We were mixing and mingling, then his boss got everyone’s attention. The boss said the usual pleasantries, then said, “and to present your award and official retirement certificate, we have some special guests. First, let’s ask someone special to you to be with you as you receive it…”
…then my sister-in-law stepped out from behind a curtain. My brother rushed to her, hugged her tightly, and I could tell that he was asking, “how did you get here? When did you arrive? Who arranged this?” … while I didn’t hear exactly what he said, my “twin thing” was communicating 100% of his feelings through me. I tell ‘ya, tears began to well up.
But the boss wasn’t done. He continued, “now let’s have our special guest make the official presentation….” and out walked one of the highest ranking officials in the entire U.S. Government. I can’t say who it was or the title, because I don’t want to attract media attention to this blog. But let me confirm, that person is impressive!
My brother went into shock. His jaw dropped to the floor (almost) and I could tell that he was shaking. Seriously nervous. The official was gracious, kind, and thoughtful. The official gave a very heartwarming speech and congratulated my brother on his 32 years of service to our country.
The room burst into applause. Then my brother was asked to speak. He stood before the group at the microphone and I could tell that he was struggling. He was still shaking. He looked at me, and I smiled warmly at him and gave him a hand signal which between us means, “go for it”.
He composed himself, and said, “my brother should be giving this speech. He’s the public speaker in the family and we never could shut him up.” That crack lightened the mood and caused everyone to laugh. My brother thanked everyone very graciously. Then he called me, my partner, and my five siblings who were there to join his wife at the front of the room, and gave an impassioned thanks to us for our support.
It was then that both he and I broke into tears. But good tears.
Now my brother turns the page on a new chapter in his life. His wife, me, and our wonderful family will be by his side, always.
Life is short: show those you love that you love them.
P.S.: I was wearing a suit (yuck), silk tie (double-yuck), and a new pair of very dressy black Lucchese goatskin cowboy boots (yea!) that my brother bought for me for our birthday that is coming up. I’ll feature photos on my website and this blog at a later date.