Surprises – we never see them coming. It’s pretty common for people to try and surprise someone on their birthday, whether it’s through an unexpected party or an exciting present. While there might be some of us who don’t like things happening out of our control, the rest are usually overjoyed when people go to the effort to treat us this way (so long as it goes off without a hitch). Planning a big surprise can be incredibly difficult to do, especially when you need to prepare everything while simultaneously keeping the special person oblivious to what’s going on behind the scenes. The payoff when it works, however, is incomparable, and that’s exactly what this mom from Orlando, Florida discovered when she went out for a celebratory dinner with her daughter. Tammy Oswalt had no idea that her birthday present was waiting for her at the restaurant and that she was about to meet someone that she thought was out of her life forever.
The setting of a dinner table for momentous occasions is a fairly popular one, even if TV would have us believe that it always ends in drama. We often see it as the ideal place to bring the people we love together, because everyone is sat at the same table talking to one another without anything getting in the way. There are few other places where this can be achieved quite so efficiently.
It’s due to this love of having dinner that the event is often used for meeting new people, whether it be for a work, personal or romantic purpose. Parents have been known to ask their children to bring their new partner round for dinner when they announce their relationship. This isn’t something that only happens when they’re still living at home, but for years after the fact. It provides the best social setting to get to know someone new. After all, what else is there to do during dinner other than eat and talk?
Dinners also give us the perfect opportunity to surprise someone. With everyone sitting around the table, you can’t see what’s going on in the other rooms of the house if something or someone is waiting to catch you off guard. What’s more, if you’re going to be surprised by something (delightfully) unexpected, wouldn’t you want your friends and family around you when it happened? Who else will get more pleasure out of seeing how happy they’ve made you? Perhaps this story of a life-changing dinner surprise will convince you.
Tammy Oswalt has always considered herself to be a normal woman with her fair share of ups and downs. The decisions we make shape our lives, and that’s something that Tammy has learned to accept over time, although it hasn’t always been easy for her. When she went out for birthday celebrations with her daughter one day, she never thought a decision from her past would come back to surprise her. However, that was the day that she discovered that life is also full of second chances.
In September 2017, Tammy turned 53. To celebrate the occasion, her eldest daughter Sammy Hewett decided it would be a good idea to take her mom out for a meal somewhere nice. The two of them didn’t often get to spend quality time together, so Tammy was flattered by the invitation and agreed without question. What she didn’t realise was that Sammy had an ulterior motive for arranging the meal, and that she’d prepared a very unexpected birthday present at the restaurant.
A surprise awaits
Upon showing up to the restaurant, Tammy had no reason to suspect that anything was out of the ordinary. While everything at first seemed incredibly normal, the moment of surprise was fast approaching, and Sammy’s words were beginning to throw up a lot of questions in her mom’s mind. When she told her that her birthday present was something “that money can’t touch,” Tammy was bewildered, but her interest was definitely piqued. The mother-daughter dinner was suddenly turning into something much bigger.
What’s going on?
Things escalated further when Sammy started recording her mom on her phone. The video was being streamed live on Facebook, and at the time, Tammy had no idea why. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for her daughter to act unconventionally – her words in the video were, “You know how I do random, unexpected stuff, right?” – but this was something entirely new. Whatever was about to happen was going to be momentous, and sure to be another in a long line of “incredible presents” that Sammy had set up for her mom.
A moment of realisation
There was one moment that made it clear to Tammy what was about to happen. As she sat there staring at her daughter, the phone recording her confusion and excitement perfectly, Sammy announced on the live stream what the big birthday surprise was. Tammy couldn’t believe the words that came out of her daughter’s mouth, but she was assured that there was absolute truth in what she said was about to happen. Something that she’d never have imagined happening years ago was about to become a reality.
With a smile on her face, Sammy told her mom, “I want you to meet your son, Dylan.” Those weren’t words she’d ever thought she’d hear, but when she turned around, she spotted her son standing there. This was a son that she hadn’t set eyes on since he was just a baby. Over 18 years later, she had been reunited with him once again, and he was now a tall and matured young man. The two of them locked eyes and Tammy knew that it really was her long-lost son standing before her.
It should be known that friends and family mean everything to Tammy Oswalt. Having raised two daughters who are now fully-grown adults, she’s used to having company and relishes the opportunity to spend as much time with the people she loves as possible. With family being such an important part of her life, the possibility of being reunited with someone she thought she’d never see again was truly incomparable to anything else. There was no greater present that her daughter could have given her.
When Tammy came face to face with her son, she wasted no time in approaching him. The overwhelmed mother jumped out of her seat and enveloped her only son in a massive hug that was happily returned. Sammy continued to film the emotional moment as the pair embraced for a good few moments, happy in the knowledge that her birthday surprise had indeed turned out as she hoped. She signed off with the live stream saying, “Happy birthday, mom.”
Mother and child
So who is this young man? Dylan is Tammy’s son who she gave birth to in the late ‘90s. At the time, she already had Sammy and her sister, and the pressure of another child on the way was a lot for her to deal with. She was a single mother as well, having split from Dylan’s father before she’d even found out that she was expecting again. With so much to deal with all by herself, Tammy struggled to cope and ultimately made a decision that she lived to regret for many years.
An impossible decision
It wasn’t easy putting Dylan up for adoption, and the decision that Tammy made is one that many women struggle to make every day. With so little money to keep her family afloat – she was on the verge of becoming homeless – it seemed almost certain that her son would have a better life if he grew up with people that could afford to care for him. Her actions were incredibly selfless, and thankfully Dylan was fortunate enough to have a happy childhood with his adopted family.
A parting moment
Giving up her son for adoption could have been the best decision ever made, but that still wouldn’t have made it any easier for Tammy to go through with it. Dylan was her own flesh and blood, and there is nothing in the world quite like a mother’s love. Although she only had a brief amount of time with him before he was taken away, she couldn’t have been happier holding her young boy in her arms. Luckily, eighteen years later she’d get to do that again.
All she had was love
Tammy has since spoken about the heartbreak that surrounded her decision to put Dylan up for adoption. During an interview with Inside Edition following their reunion, she pointed out that “a mom doesn’t give up her child like a sack of potatoes.” While some might criticise Tammy’s actions and accuse her of not loving her son enough, that is very clearly not the case. “All I could give him was love,” she asserted, stating the decision was made because she loved him, and not the opposite.
The dark aftermath
Of course, while she may have done it out of love, that doesn’t mean she was able to live with her decision in the years that followed Dylan’s birth. The loss of her son sent Tammy into a downward spiral that almost led to her taking her own life, although no attempt was successful. Her depression consumed her for a long time as the “emotional guilt and loss overwhelmed [her],” and it made it difficult for her to stay strong for the two children she was still caring for.
Finding a way to cope
There was a light at the end of the tunnel for Tammy, though, and the dark clouds of her past gradually started to pass over. As time progressed, it became easier to cope with the decision that she’d made, and she was able to move through the heartbreak so that she could dedicate herself to the friends and family around her. She never fully recovered from the trauma of giving up her only son, and Dylan was always on her mind no matter what.
Taking the first step
For parents who give up their child for adoption, there’s always the lingering wonder of whether said child will come looking for them one day. It turns out that in Tammy’s case, her son did just that. In the fall of 2017, he was able to get hold of his sister Sammy’s telephone number, and the two of them spoke to one another in secret. When the communication began, Dylan wasn’t sure if he wanted to contact his biological mom, but he was happy to have discovered a sister he’d never known.
The conversations didn’t remain secret forever, though, and one day Sammy confessed to her mother that the two of them had been talking. After eighteen years of separation and dealing with the guilt of her decision, Tammy wasn’t sure how to process the information. The son that she’d longed to have back in her life had started reaching out, but her daughter had kept it from her. She felt angry and confused, but deep down there was a feeling that perhaps one day she’d see her baby boy again.
An emotional conversation
It took a bit of time, but eventually, Dylan felt that he was ready to make contact with the woman who had brought him into the world eighteen years earlier. The two of them spoke over the phone, and it was an incredibly emotional moment for Tammy, although she tried her best to stay calm. There was so much she wanted to ask him, but she didn’t want to overwhelm Dylan and scare him off. She let him take control of the conversation and allowed him to decide when he felt ready to meet up.
Back together again
While it could have taken weeks or months for their reunion to happen, it didn’t take very long at all. Just a few days after Tammy’s birthday, when she and Sammy were out celebrating with a family dinner, Dylan took the plunge and came face to face with his mother. It was as heart-warming a moment as you’d expect, with Tammy later admitting that when she saw him, “there was so much love, I just wanted to hold and kiss him.”
Tears of joy
You could hardly expect the women to stay in control of her emotions during such a long-awaited reunion. Tammy struggled to keep her composure in the restaurant, and when her daughter said the words she’d always wanted to hear – “ Meet your son, Dylan” – she completely broke. If giving up her son had been the hardest day of her life, this was the happiest. Finally, those tears were ones of joy and not sadness. The family was reunited.
It was all fate?
If you don’t believe that this reunion was destined to happen then maybe this surprising fact will change your mind. Tammy and Dylan only live 90 minutes away from one another, meaning that all this time mother and son have been pretty close without even realizing it. What’s more, their proximity means that future meetups won’t be difficult to do, because neither party has too far to travel. Following their reunion at dinner, Tammy announced her intention to watch Dylan play soccer, a sport that her son is very passionate about.
The next step
With their reunion only a few months before the holidays, it was inevitable that the question of what mother and son planned to do for Christmas would get asked eventually. Having spent eighteen years celebrating all manner of events without her son present, Tammy was hopeful that Dylan would be interested in joining their annual holiday meal. It would be a chance for him to meet all the family and friends that he’d missed out on growing up, but the prospect was daunting for the teenager.
A big decision
There was a lot of deliberating on Dylan’s part over what to do. The meal was a big occasion, and he wasn’t sure if he was ready to face so many people he’d never met before. He also didn’t want to upset his adopted parents who had been the only family he knew for the last eighteen years. However, after thinking about it for a while and discussing it with his adopted parents, he decided that he was ready to make the next step.
One big happy family
Even after agreeing to attend the meal, Dylan was still incredibly nervous about showing up. As Tammy’s long-lost son, he was going to be the center of attention, and there was going to be lots of people for him to meet. Those nerves quickly faded, though, after he was welcomed into the house and given a big hug by his cousins and family friends. Everyone had made an effort to make him feel that he belonged there, with a stocking for him on the fireplace and gifts under the tree. Dylan’s first Christmas with his new family was the start of something new.
The future is bright
After so many years feeling incomplete, Tammy finally feels happy that her family is back to how it should be. The darkness of her past feels long forgotten, and she’s now incredibly optimistic about what the future holds. “Everything I ever wanted, I now have,” she beamed in an interview. She’ll forever be grateful to Dylan for deciding to reach out to her, and to Sammy for arranging their heartwarming reunion. That birthday dinner is one that Tammy Oswalt will never forget.