It was a night that no one who was going to be there would forget anytime soon.
At least, that was the plan.
It was June 3, 2011. My mom's 60th birthday. It actually fell on a Friday, to be exact. Perfect. This day was already starting to look up.
Anyhoo, I went to work, did my work stuff for the end of the week, and then I called it a day like anyone else who may have gone to work that week back in 2011. At that point, I had already entered a weekend state of mind, especially with what my family had planned for that night.
You see, that day in particular, on top of being Mom's 60th birthday, was a day that was shrouded in secrecy. I'm not talking about some kind of bizarre cover-up that I'm only now willing to cop to since a decade and change has now passed, no, but it was shrouded in secrecy from Mom, specifically. That's because she was completely in the dark over what we had planned for that night. This lady was turning 60, and we were going to make a big deal about it.
I left my office and got in my car. I had two stops to make before I left Outlook. Ducking into the New Outlook cafe, I grabbed some takeout supper for everyone at home before zipping across to the flower shop. Making a pickup of some beautiful flowers, I have to say it made for a unique combination of smells in my car on that drive home; the scent of the eye-grabbing flowers mixed in with the aroma of roast beef, burgers and fries. Now that's a combination that I don't think even AXE Body Spray would jump on.
I got home and gave Mom the flowers. Now, I'm simply the pickup man on this job; the flowers were from Dad and I merely happened to be in Outlook at my place of work, so the arrangement of me going to pick them up just worked out the best for everyone. All the credit goes to Jack on this one. Mom's happy, as she leans in and gives him a kiss before we all sit down to our takeout supper that evening.
Now, all Mom knows is that we're all going down to the bar in Conquest for some drinks to celebrate her birthday. Good, that's what she's supposed to know for now. We all eat our supper before getting changed and ready for a 'night on the town'. Even Dad's got himself looking sharp. Jack didn't really get out all that often in his remaining years with us, so anytime he decided to go out, something about it just felt special. Hey, it's only his wife's 60th birthday, may as well go for a beer or two, right?
We load up the vehicles and head down to the bar. This is going to be so great...
We enter the bar and try to keep stone faces, but some of us are already cracking...
And Mom is greeted by a filled-to-the-nines bar full of relatives, friends and well-wishers who are there to surprise her for her birthday. Mom is so happy and she's already making her rounds, going around to say hello to everyone and thank them for coming out. Hey, Mom? Have a seat, the best is yet to come.
Mom and Dad sit down with drinks, seated beside my uncles and aunts. Something's apparently coming out to greet the birthday girl, but what is it?
Without any further interruptions, Lana introduces the night's entertainment, and Mom's mouth is about to drop. Elvis Presley himself walks out on the floor of the bar in front of the huge crowd of onlookers. The crowd claps and hollers, and all eyes are on Mom. Yep, just as we all suspected, her mouth is indeed agape and she is absolutely speechless! She didn't have any clue what was awaiting her on this night, and we all managed to pull it off without tipping the birthday girl off. It's an image that I can play back in my mind over and over again and remember even the faintest of details. Mom's face just said it all that night, and she was so, so, so happy for the experience that was the entire night.
Lynda Ruttle got Elvis for her birthday. I can only imagine that she wished for such a gift many times while she was growing up, and I'm still happy to this day that we were able to make it happen for her.
Elvis, of course, was a tribute artist, with this gentleman coming from Prince Albert. That didn't matter to Mom, of course, and I took a few photos during the show, as well as one of Mom and Elvis himself. That particular photo was included on the back of the funeral cards that people were handed at Mom's celebration of life in August of 2021. Mom at her happiest; it was just the right choice that showed everyone what a joyful person this woman was during the life that she shared with all of us.
I love that photo. But I'll be honest with all of you about something - I think my favorite photo of my parents came from a random snapshot that I captured earlier that evening back at home.
We were just about to sit down to our takeout supper when Mom was marveling over her flowers. I just happened to have my trusty little Canon digital camera in my hands, so I thought I'd grab a pic or two of the flowers that brought her so much joy in this moment. Then, seeing Dad sitting at the table with Mom nestled beside him, I took a second and just asked them if they'd pose for me for a quick shot. I'm so happy that they obliged, and I'm even happier that they appear to be so happy in the photo. Dad's sitting in his seat at the table with Mom standing beside him. Both of them are smiling, genuinely enjoying the Kodak moment. You can even see Dad's roast beef takeout supper just to the bottom right in the shot, but more importantly, Mom's flowers are front and center. Mom's standing beside her husband of nearly 29 years at this point, arms on his shoulders, and one emotion can be seen in both of their faces in this image - joy. Mom loved her flowers, Dad loved that she loved them, and they both just loved each other. It's a photo that I'll always be glad I got the inspiration to snap, even if it was just a spur of the moment photograph, and it's become my favorite photo of my parents.
There's a lot of emotion, story, and moments that are remembered when we look at photographs. When I look at that specific photo of my parents that was taken on Friday, June 3, 2011, I'm reminded of two people who were my world and two people who were each other's world. I'm also reminded of the night that we gave Mom one of the best nights of her life.
She deserved it so much. I'm happy that there was still a lot that we were able to do with her and for her in the years that followed.
The power of a photograph is forever linked with the memories that were created on the days and nights that were captured.
Hopefully, those memories bring you joy and you look back on them and smile.
I know I do.
For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.