Obviously the Main Event of the weekend was the surprise for Heather. She had no idea I was coming, and didn't think I would be able to get to Florida to see her show at all. I didn't think I'd be able to, either, but several weeks ago my dad called to see if he could fly me down to see the show as a surprise for her. Um, yes, please!
My dad picked me up from the airport at 2:00 on Friday afternoon and brought me back to the house. He had a whole plan worked out for how the surprise would play out: I would hide on the front porch, and he would go inside and tell Heather she had a package on the porch. Then when she came outside, SURPRISE!
So, when we got to the house, I assumed my porch position and my dad went inside to get Heather. A moment later, however, he came back outside and said, "she's sleeping!" Well, that was unexpected! I was hungry, so we decided to run out and grab lunch, hoping that would give her time to wake up. So, I got my lunch and we came back to the house and tried again. I assumed the position, my dad went inside, then..."she's still sleeping!"
On to Plan B. I went into the house and hung out in the family room and basically just waited for Heather to wake up. To aid in that process, my dad started unloading the dishwasher rather loudly. When she still wasn't waking up, I sent her a text message wishing her good luck for her second weekend of shows. She texted back! She said thank you, and told me she was just waking up from a nap. I responded that I hoped I didn't wake her, and she replied that no, in fact Dad had woken her with his loud dishes! Ha!
Finally, she emerged from her room. My dad reverted back to Plan A then, and told her a package came for her and he put it in the family room. She walked into the room and saw me sitting on the couch, and her jaw dropped! She was so thrilled! She said that she figured I had been texting her because I felt badly that I would not be able to see her show, so that improvised plan had really helped the whole thing - she was even more convinced I would not be coming to see her. It was so great to see how surprised and excited she was, and Dad and I were excited, too! It was a great family moment. I wish I had a picture of her face when she saw me! But, I do have this picture my mom took of her after her show this weekend, and really her face wasn't all too dissimilar from this, to give you an idea:
Yay for surprises!
We hung out at the house a bit then, before Heather had to leave for that evening's show and I had to beautify myself. Dad and I got to the theater (the Jaeb Theater at the Straz Center) a little early, got drinks and popcorn and found our seats. The theater was set up cabaret style, so we shared a little table with two other women.
The Respect stage
I was super excited to see Heather's bio in the Playbill - it's so official! I helped her write her bio, by the way. It's like I'm famous by association now!
Respect in the Playbill (my autographed copy, of course) and Heather's bio! (Click to enlarge)
As you already know from my last post, I loved the show. I laughed, I cried, I sang along, I danced, I felt empowered, I felt moved. Heather did a beautiful job, as did the other three girls. My favorite song Heather sang was "You Don't Own Me" in the second act - it's very powerful, and she's incredible. Heather's castmates made the same comment about me that her friends on the cruise ship did: that I'm funny because I just sit in the audience and stare at her the whole time with a big ol' grin on my face. I tried to actually be conscious of it this time, and not sit there like a grinning idiot for two hours straight, but apparently I failed. I'm just so proud.
After the show, the cast comes out into the lobby to mingle with the audience and sign autographs. Do you have any idea how cool it is to watch your sister sign autographs? She's amazing.
Heather autographing more Playbills after the show
After the show
Heather (out of costume), my dad and me!
Yay for Heather and yay for Respect!
When Heather finished with all she had to do, she and I went to downtown St. Pete to Ceviche for tapas and cocktails. We had some amazing food and I had a delightful glass of sangria (Heather had wine), then we walked to another bar for another glass of wine before heading home. It was so nice to be out on the town with my sister!
My pretty sister eating some kind of amazingly delicious spinach thing at Ceviche
That afternoon I took my dad to work so I could use his car to go - where else? - shopping at Target! Gotta love it. I ran some other errands, too. Other than that, it was a lazy afternoon around the house.
My poor, sweet, old dog Lucy, and Heather's cat Rodney enjoying some downtime around the house
That evening my mom was going to Heather's show, so beforehand she and some of her friends picked me up and took me out to dinner at Olive Garden. We had a very nice meal, and it was nice to get to see all of them, too!
Gary, Mom, me, and my mom's friend Wilma at Olive Garden
I had considered going out on the town that evening, but I was just too tired. Plus, it was pretty rainy out and I don't do well with driving in the rain, especially at night. So I just picked my dad up from work at 9:00, then relaxed around the house for the night.
Sunday morning I got up and went over to Eric's sister Kelley's new house for breakfast with Eric's whole family. Toni was even able to join us! She is doing so incredibly well. It's just remarkable. Her face lit up when she saw me and that is just the greatest thing in the whole world. It was so wonderful to see her and see how she continues to improve - what a woman she is!
We had a great time at breakfast. Kelley and Susan prepared a wonderful meal, and it was so nice to see the whole family. We even got to talk to Eric on Skype for a bit! Some of the family also played some ping pong and Wii Fit (Ronnie tried his hand at hula-hooping), then soon it was time to go. Thanks for putting the breakfast together, Kelley!
Susan and Kelley playing ping-pong
Gramz (and her dog) and Toni watching the Wii Fit action
After leaving Kelley's I went back home to get ready for a second showing of Respect. I met up with Lauren, a friend of mine who actually is friends with Heather from college, too. She agreed to see the Sunday afternoon performance of Heather's show with me, which was great! We met up at Chili's in Tampa for appetizers and margaritas first, then went over to the theater. Once again, the show was awesome. I was so glad I got to see it twice, because I definitely missed stuff the first time around (while I was staring at Heather and grinning), because apparently there was other stuff going on onstage in addition to what Heather was doing. Who knew?
With Heather and Lauren after the show
After Heather's show, she and I went home to meet up with Dad, who took us out to dinner at The Hurricane on the beach. Unfortunately, the sky was dark and stormy so we didn't get to see the sunset, but we ate seafood until we could not possibly eat another bite, enjoyed some great oldies music and just had a nice time together.
Out to dinner with family
After dinner we went back home and Heather and I watched the Emmy Awards, then I packed up my stuff and went to bed. I got up early this morning to catch my 7:15 a.m. flight back to NYC, and just like that, the weekend was over!
Thanks again to my dad for making this weekend happen - I can't even say how grateful I am that I got to see Heather's show and spend this unexpected time with family! And thanks to all of the rest of you who helped make the rest of the weekend so awesome. I am so lucky to have all of you in my life!
And P.S. - Go see Respect!