A couple of years ago, I thought I gave my mum the biggest, and best surprise for her birthday by shipping myself over to my hometown, Toronto. Once I landed, I took a cab from the airport to my grandmother’s nursing home where I knew mum would be visiting that day. Once I spotted her sitting in the nursing home’s lobby, I pulled out my phone and gave mum a ‘long-distance’ call. Snickering to myself, I found it quite entertaining that I was having a conversation with my very own mother who at the time did not realize that her son was standing directly above her. Eventually, I took my phone from my ear and started taking photos of mum as she continued the conversation with me. I must say, it was quite the treat to see mum’s face go from a blank stare to a state of confusion as she thought to herself, “why is this strange man taking random photos of me?” That’s when I decided it was time to drop the bomb and wish mum a happy birthday, in person. It was a stunt that I thought would be unbeatable and go down into birthday surprise history. But that reign ended last week with mum somehow one-upping me! Yup, together with my wife, the dynamic duo planned and executed the ultimate birthday surprise. The sneaky pair somehow timed my mum’s arrival to land just one hour before my wife’s plane landed from a conference that she attended in LA. And after greeting my wife at arrivals, we walked into the airport’s restaurant to grab a quick bite before the drive home. And wouldn’t you know it, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that there was a ‘strange’ woman taking candid photos of me. Eventually I made my way to the woman who was hiding half her face behind her tablet camera to ask her what she was up to. As I neared, I realized that this strange woman was actually my mother giving her son some well-timed payback. With that, I decided that it would be a good time to give mum a different kind of payback, one that she could hold onto for years to come. A portrait fit for a queen–of paybacks.