(This story is about events that took place in Dec. 2003.)
It was Sunday, Dec. 21, 2003. Brian and Adrienne were about to pull off the most incredible surprise ever. That evening, Brian insisted on driving us to our destination. Edward and I were told we would be heading down to Mercado to see the giant menorah lighting sponsored by Chabad. We figured we would be spending this night of Chanukah in the I-Drive area. I took off my dirty clothes and put on something a bit more appropriate. Off we went!
However, we passed the cut off on I-4 for the Mercado, so Ed immediately said that we were probably heading to Disney. Brian kept driving. Adrienne remained quiet. And, I was told to call some friends in PA. So, I gave a couple of good friends a call to say hello. Brian apparently wanted to keep me busy so that I would not notice we would ultimately pass right by the Disney exit as well.
Actually, it turns out we were heading to Tampa. And, when we arrived in the downtown area, Brian parked at the Ice Palace. The sign read something about a hockey game, so Ed and I thought we would be watching an ice hockey game, something we enjoyed doing as a family. Then, as we made our way into the elevator to get to our location, Ed tapped me on the shoulder to ask if I had looked at the tickets. “It made no sense,” he said. I asked the woman next to me, “What was she here for?” She said, “A concert!” I gave out a real shocked response: “I was told it was a hockey game!” The entire elevator was filled and they all began cheering and laughing. I then realized it was “a huge surprise!” Brian and Adrienne were taking us to a live concert performance of Simon & Garfunkel. “I was in shock!”
“Oh my God!” I shouted! I could not believe it. We had great seats, right off to the side at stage level. We were very, very shocked and happy. Brian and Adrienne were thrilled too, as they saw the happiness and surprise on our faces. The hit song “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” was sang at my high school graduation. In fact, Edward was in the school chorus and had been there singing at my ceremony. (We graduated high school in different years.) I was overwhelmed by the entire evening -- my kids had pulled one amazing surprise!
The fun continued beyond that night. That same week, we went to an advanced screening of the film "Cold Mountain” and then out to dinner for my brother Michael’s birthday. Brian also took us to see a Disney movie, “Brother Bear.” Chanukah was special that year -- we spent plenty of time as a family doing fun things together. There were plenty of latkes to eat and we even watched the DVD of “Fiddler on the Roof” while dining upon our latkes, donuts and other Chanukah goodies.
Keep in mind, our financial situation had not changed. We were still struggling on a daily basis. But, for now, I felt “rich” and “I was so happy to have my family all together.” We were sharing the rough times while adding in some surprises.
“I love Brian and Adrienne so much.” I could not get over how they had surprised me and had shown me how much they cared. They had helped create some special memories.
We drove around the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights as well. This one house was famous for its decorating. The owners had spent more than $10,000 over the years accumulating their decorations and it costs between $500 - $600 a month for electricity during the holiday season. (Imagine that, I thought. Wish I had that money in my pocket.)
Since it was Christmas Day --- and Chanukah was being celebrated during the same period of time, we did our usual family trip to Amira’s, a popular kosher restaurant. (One of only a few places open that day for business.) I had a corned beef sandwich on challah along with a cup of matzoh ball soup. My “tummy” was satisfied.
For a short moment in time, I was feeling good. Trust me when I say, this “moment” was fleeting although memorable. Operation Move was underway. We would soon be living in a completely different location -- actually, we would find ourselves separated from one another. Adrienne and I in one location; Ed and Brian in different places. We would be the “divided” Feldman Dynamic. The year 2004 would be a real “roller coaster” ride for all.