By Darren Lum
Standing on her deck at the side of her house warmed by the spring sun and the sight of the vehicles filled with family and friends waving and shouting “happy birthday Carol!” Carol Stamp cried.
Her tears came from overwhelming feelings of joy as her loved ones found a new way to celebrate her 78th birthday on April 16 while still observing coronavirus health precautions.
“Oh my goodness. I can’t believe that they did that. I have wonderful friends and family” she said. “It’s priceless. It’s lovely. I’m speechless. I’m speechless … so nice. We don’t see one another for a while. We’re used to seeing each other all the time.”
Twenty-one vehicles carrying 34 people visited her home on St. Andrew’s Court in West Guilford. Several more people sent their messages of love through an online chat program.
Carol’s daughter Susan said the idea came from having heard about other vehicle parades. She knew organizing an event like this would be difficult living with her mother so she asked her mother’s long-time friend and neighbour Pat Bain and her cousin Kim Stamp to spread the word.
This birthday surprise Susan said is also in honour of her father Lyle who died in October.
“This was the kind of thing he would have done” she said.
Pat said she’s known Carol for close to 50 years.
Organizing the caravan of joy for her friend was very meaningful. Bain thinks of Carol as a sister. They’ve lived through the good times and have weathered the challenging times; both are cancer survivors.
Carol and Lyle had always included Pat in their lives and they travelled together. Getting to have a part in organizing Carol’s birthday meant a lot to Pat.
“To be able to do something for all she and Lyle have done for me I know that it brings my heart happiness and I know it will [bring to] hers as well” she said.
Pat remembers the comfort she found in her friendship when her marriage ended 25 years ago.
“At that time you know I thought well I won’t be able to keep my home and that really upset me for my kids’ sake but it was Carol who said ‘Pat try it. Don’t put a for-sale sign on [your lawn]. Just try and see if you can manage.’ And my house is paid for … and I’ve managed” she said.
Pat said getting people to participate in the caravan was easy.
“Everybody was right on board because I think everybody needs an excuse to get out without getting close to people” she said.
She said this will help Carol who is still dealing with the loss of Lyle.
“This will certainly boost her spirits for a long long time” she said.