Here is a lovely guest post from my Mom (Hi Mom!). Because she wrote some nice things about me when I turned 40 in the summer, she has now done the same thing for Tony for his birthday on Monday. She is awesome that way.
I am a traditionalist. Not a dyed-in-the-wool, averse to any change in any way traditionalist, but I have certain traditional ideas and practices that I am reluctant to change. One of these is the commonly-held idea, among mothers anyway, that I would hate the man that took my little girl away from me.
When Tony first appeared on the scene, I had no idea that he would one day become my son-in-law, so there was no reason to be wary of him. I allowed myself to like him. By the time I knew that he was the one for Finola, it was far too late. I liked him too much to turn the clock back.
From the beginning Tony’s generous nature showed through. When I needed some trees and bushes cleared from the jungle that was my back yard, I called a landscaping company for an estimate. Unfortunately, their quoted price was a bit steep for me at the time, so I resigned myself to living in a jungle.
Tony had a look at the trees, and said: “I can clear them for you.” And he did, and did a superb job. He cut down the trees, got the roots out, cut the trunks and branches into small logs, and took everything away. He left the site immaculate, ready for planting grass seed.
On another occasion, Paul had done a renovation job on my kitchen. He installed a new dishwasher, new counters, new cupboard doors and a new floor. He did a great job, and it looked terrific. However, Paul was working against the clock, as he was about to leave for The Czech Republic to teach English for a year. He didn’t have time to paint the kitchen before he left.
Tony said: “I can do that”, and he did. After two coats I was delighted, but Tony was not satisfied, and insisted on giving the walls another coat. Needless to say, it was a lovely job, and was the finishing touch the kitchen needed. (Both Paul and Tony are great do-it-yourselfers, and meticulous in everything they do.)
Tony is the kind of guy who, when he comes to my house, always says: “Are there any jobs you want done?” And he always has the right tools to do any job I have. He never makes me feel a nuisance, nor feel that I am imposing on him. He has done so much for me, and always willingly and cheerfully,
One tradition we’ve had since my children were quite young is that on their birthdays, they got to choose the menu. Paul always chose steak and lobster, Finola shish kabobs, the meat well soaked in a special marinade that I only make once a year, on her birthday.
I’m not quite sure of the circumstances, but I think Tony was teasing me about something once, when I told him, jokingly, that he’d better watch out or he’d get Irish stew for his birthday dinner. When his birthday came around, he asked for Irish stew! No, no, no, I said. How could I give my kids steak and lobster, and Tony stew? Never.
He insisted that that was what he wanted so, most reluctantly, I made it. To my great surprise, the family, and Tony, loved it, and now Tony’s Irish stew is on the menu every November 14 (or the Saturday closest).
I remember so well the day that Tony and Finola called unexpectedly to the house after spending a few hours in the Gatineau Hills. There was an air of joy and excitement about them. Something’s going on, sez I to myself. Finally I could contain myself no longer, and asked them what was going on. Finola held out her left hand and showed me the beautiful ring sparkling on her finger. I was overjoyed.
There are so many things I have to thank you for Tony: your good humour, your generosity, your kindness, and your complete devotion to your family. For all the things you are, Tony, I’m very grateful.
So on your 40th, I wish you the best of Happy Birthdays. I love you.