The first of the big three surprises as I have retroactively coined them came in February 2011.
We had taken possession of our Carina Place home eight years ago today on January 19th, 2011. This was a pretty big deal for us for many reasons and Hillary's parents wanted to come out and visit us in the very near future.
Their initial plan had been to drive out and surprise both of us, but then realized that they didn't know the ins and outs of all of our plans for the next month or so. So Heather emailed me a few days before they planned on leaving and asked if this was a good idea.
I confirmed what I had thought, that we had no additional plans for February. So it was a good idea.
We emailed back and forth a bit.
I remembered trying to cover all bases of not leaking any information to Hillary about this. Going back over the the email thread between Heather and myself from 2011 was great. In one particular email close to their departure I suggested a reasonably elaborate set of steps to follow if they were going to call.
Hillary would talk to them at least once per week most weeks and with a drive out from Ontario happening, there would definitely need to be one call during the trip. Hillary couldn't initiate the call to their cell phone for obvious reasons of, "Where are you?"
Lifted directly from that email in early 2011, from me to her parents:
...I may be overthinking this, but when it comes to surprises, I take no chances with Hillary. She's dangerous when it comes to piecing tiny bits of information together.
So anyway, the day came. Heather and Roger made it to Burnaby. I took the afternoon off work and was at home when they arrived. We'd been in contact and had decided that the best plan would be to get the three of us to a restaurant and have Hillary meet us there.
I booked a reservation at Horizons.
I don't quite recall the final logistics. I'm not sure who had the car. I'd bet that Hillary had gotten a ride with a co-worker, but I wouldn't swear to it. Either way, I knew when she arrived. We were already at our table, the southwest corner, with a spectacular view.
I got up as she headed to the restaurant to intercept her at the door.
By the time she got there, most of the tables in that corner of the restaurant had people sitting there. There was a brief moment of confusion when she was confused as to why there were no obvious tables in the area I was clearly directing her toward. Then she realized who was sitting at that particular table.
Heather's recollection is a pretty surprised look and then Hillary burst into tears.
I always felt that was a good one.