While I was at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, I met other writers, networked, learned a lot, and explored a new place. The Ridge Crest Conference Center is set in the Blue Ridge Mountain Range but more specifically it resides in Black Mountain. It has been so long since I last saw a mountain. I was amazed by the beauty surrounding the place. Much better than the flat, muggy, hot, and stormy state of Florida for sure.
The second day of the conference, I was exhausted. I decided to skip the morning keynote to give my eyes some rest before class. I had no idea what would be announced that morning until later on…
Afternoon came around and one of the attendees approached me and shaped her hands to say, “Happy Birthday, Paige.” I smiled, concealing my shock at the unexpected birthday wish.
What’s going on here? How did she know my birthday was on its way? There’s no way she could have known…
However, that was not the last person to wish me happy birthday in American Sign Language! One by one throughout the day, people stopped by to sign: Happy Birthday Paige.
I have never had so many people willing to communicate with me through sign language in one day!
The third day of the conference rolled around, and I found out why all those writing-weirdos, as DiAnn Mills appropriately pointed out (haha!), were signing to me.
Edie Melson, who directs the conference, pulled me aside one evening and said, “Paige, I have something to tell you.” I watched my interpreter as I eagerly awaited what Edie would say next, “Yesterday morning during the keynote, I introduced you to everyone and asked them to wish you “happy birthday” if they see you. Your team helped teach everyone how to sign it.”
There were no words I could express to tell her just how thankful I was. I was truly touched.
On the third morning, after I finished getting dressed for the day, I passed through the doorway and I noticed something dangling above. My low vision made me squint and only then was I able to make out the shape of a balloon. When I looked back down to eye level, I was marveled by what I saw. The living room was full of birthday decorations!
Unbeknownst to me, my team put this all together.
That was only the start to my birthday surprise.
After breakfast I went back to my room for a moment and my nurse held up something close-up for me to see. As I read it, my eyes widened in panic.
“Summer wants you to wear this birthday sash,” she finger spelt.
“What!” I screamed. Summer is one of my interpreters and a dear friend. “Is Summer crazy? I can’t just wear that out of the room!”
Summer must have lost her mind or maybe left her brain behind in Florida. She knows me better than that.
I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I texted her in protest.
“It’s okay to celebrate your birthday, Paige!” she said, “Have fun with it! How many times will you get to wear a sash at an event that has all your weirdos at it?”
She had a surprisingly good point and I was convinced. I decided to sport around my sash for the day for all of my weirdos to see.
The day went by like a blur.
Before the evening keynote, my team and I stopped by our rooms for a quick break. They left me in the lobby and went to their hotel room to grab something, though I did not know what. When they came out, they held something in their hand…
What are they up to??
All of a sudden, I felt something wet, stringy, and smelly spraying all over my face and COVERING my outfit.
Oh my! Silly string!
Well, that was a great surprise for my birthday and I will stop right here since the blog is already getting so long. Thank you to everyone who made my birthday this year so incredibly special.7