We went to a surprise party tonight. Well, we didn't get there for the beginning, but we did show up a half an hour later. It was a combined 70th birthdays party and 50th anniversary party for a great couple that we have known for many years.
Norma and Hubert Humphrey are old time southerners, raised in Columbus, married when they were very young. Hubert's 70th was last week and Norma's is this week. They had their 50th wedding anniversary a few months ago. Their four children got together to throw a huge surprise party in honor of all those events. The turnout was huge and it was a very fun evening. They thought they were coming to their daughter's house for a special Young Women activity involving their granddaughter - Nope! Big Surprise! And they were surprised!
Norma was Relief Society president when we moved into the Roswell Ward back in 1985. She was one of the best and I think she still shepherds those sisters. We had met them previously, so it was exciting to be in the same ward - for a whole year before they split the ward! Even so, we have remained friends all these years. When we moved to Duluth in 1996 and started attending the Johns Creek Ward, the Humphreys were also members of that ward, so we had come full circle.
I have many memories over the years, but there will always be one event that stands above everything else. When Jason was sick, and options had run out, we were able to get an appointment at Sloan Kettering in NYC to look at some clinical trial options. Getting in there is very difficult, but when our doctor called, he was shocked to be able to get Jason in a few days later because of a cancellation. That meant we were hustling trying to work out a flight and everything.
In the midst of all of this, we got a phone call from the bishop, saying that a flight had been arranged. It seems the Humphreys' older son Jody had made arrangements with his folks for us to use their corporate jet to fly us up to NYC. Yes, they had a corporate jet - in fact, they had two - and apologized because the larger one was in getting maintenance and we would have to fly in the small jet. It made the flight so much easier for Jason, as we were able to fly from a small airport and could wheel him straight to the door of the plane. In addition, the big leather seats made the flight much more comfortable!
The pilots flew us up, we were met by my niece Gail, who drove us to her sister Elaine's house, where we spent the night. All of the NY/NJ family came for dinner and it gave Jason a chance to see everyone for what turned out to be the last time. The next day, Elaine drove us into Sloan-Kettering and then back to Teterboro Airport to fly home. Because the weather was bad in Atlanta, the pilots made arrangements for us to stay at a very nice hotel for the night, the bill paid for by the Humphreys. The next morning, we flew back.
As things turned out, a week later, Jason went into the hospital because of pain and he died a week later. There is no way to express the love I feel for these two people who were willing to give so much to help us in such a time. True, they are millionaires and the money may have been insignificant to them, but it certainly wasn't to us! Not to mention, the incredible blessing for Jason and the family to have that last evening together.
Thanks, Norma and Hubert!!! Happy birthdays and happy anniversary - you deserve all the special attention!