Thank you, Amanda, for your post that brought up this memory.
Mildred was an accomplished pianist and insisted, up to the end of her life, on playing every Sunday in church, regardless of how much it hurt. She started as a child, playing in Sunday School (when it used to be a separate meeting) at the age of 11.
But in high school she had a different dream. She wanted to play the violin. The closest she ever came to it was playing a friend's violin after school. Her request to take violin lessons were denied because "she played the piano and that's all she needed".
One year, somewhere around 15 years ago, while the kids were all still living at home, I had an inspiration. I bought her a student violin for Christmas, had it sent to a friend's house, and stored in in the storage locker. This was in June.
It's not too hard for me to keep a secret for six months, but as time went by the word spread. Her co-workers knew, the kids all knew, friends all knew. The only one who didn't know what Mildred.
Her reaction that Christmas morning was priceless. She took lessons and loved playing it, but unfortunately her carpal tunnel problems eventually made it too painful.
It was truly the best gift I've ever given.