Kempton Park grandmother Carina Greyling always joked to her kids that if there were ever a robbery in a shopping centre she'd want to be in a bookshop.
"I always said that I'd gladly be a hostage – right there in the corner with a book," says Carina. To be locked in a book shop overnight and have the freedom to read whatever she wants was her dream.
And then, on her 60th birthday, which she celebrated on Sunday 7 January, her dream became a reality.
The executive head of Exclusive Books, Benjamin Trisk and her four daughters worked together to create a bedroom inside Exclusive Books' Hyde Park branch in Johannesburg in honour of Carina’s special day.
"How could I say no to making Mrs Greyling's birthday wish come true, especially since she and I share a birthday?" Benjamin said about the special request which he received from Leanne Jonsson (31), one of Carina's daughters, early in December last year via email.
Carina, a grandmother of three grandchildren and an administrator at Norkem Park High School in Kempton Park, could not stop talking about the huge surprise when YOU magazine called her on Wednesday to ask about the events of the past weekend.
Carina's daughters Michelle Greyling (39), her twins Leanda Perel and Leeanne Jonsson (33) and Nicole Greyling (31) had already started spoiling their mother on Saturday.
"Sjoe, I was pampered with a mani, a pedi and my hair was cut!" Carina gushes.
The Sunday morning of her birthday she was treated to carrot cake. "It was the most delicious carrot cake ever, my children know how much I love carrot cake..."
Later that day she received a gift certificate for a book and that evening they took her out for supper. "My children know how I feel about books. I get one for my birthday, Christmas, and for me and my husband, Brian's, anniversary.
"I love reading," she says. Her favourite writers are Nora Roberts, Kathy Reichs and James Patterson, she says. The afternoon before they went out her daughters helped her do her makeup and insisted that she wear one of the outfits they bought for her birthday.
That evening after dinner at a restaurant in Melrose Arch she thought: "That's that, what a lekker birthday this was!" But her biggest gift was still to come...
Their mother’s birthday wouldn't be complete without a book- and her daughter suggested they go get her one.
"I told Leanne them, do you know it's 9 pm, all the shops are closed! But Leanne told me: ‘No mom, Exclusive Books has a restaurant that's open until late’."
The first sign Carina saw that something was afoot was when she saw her name written in silver on balloons against the restaurant wall. Then she saw the beautiful bed with its lovely linen and framed photos of her family on the nightstand.
Naturally there was a pile of books by her favourite authors waiting for her and a pot of coffee preparing her for what lies ahead...
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was terrified that someone would pinch me and say: ‘Ma’am, sorry you need to leave this shop is closed’." Carina says she immediately headed for a stand stocked with bestsellers. "Ahhh the smell of new books..."
Carina read all night, but at around 3 am she could no longer keep her eyes open after all the day’s excitement.
The next morning she was treated to a R1000 gift voucher from Exclusive Books and she left with six books, including James Patterson's latest book Haunted and Shari Lapena's A Stranger in the house.
That night she read Janet Evanovich's Hardcore Twenty-Four and still wants to go back for it.
The teachers and children at Norkem Park know her as a bookworm and often borrow books from her. "I don't even mind of they don't bring the books back, as long as they pass them on to someone else... books are a dream world to me, an escape, you can't put a price on that."
And it makes her even happier when she sees young people reading and they'll be able to collect her new books from her office in the new school year.
"It was truly the best birthday gift."