It was a weekend of surprises. I thought I was the surpriser, but I also became the surprisee!
Back on Easter Sunday, I initiated the idea with my Sis and Big Bro. What if we surprised Lil Bro for his 50th birthday? We could do it to include the graduation of our first great-niece from high school. The four of us siblings had not all been together since our mom’s funeral 4 years ago. I missed them.
Plans were a bit hard to make, since we had to make sure we reached Lil Bro’s wife when he wasn’t around, but I began to get excited. Then my Big Bro sent the let-down, indicating he couldn’t come. I was sorely disappointed, since it just wouldn’t be the same without all of us. I wondered if I should give up on the idea, too. But these were moments to celebrate. Moments we couldn’t recapture later. So, I continued with my plans, even though it was Mother’s Day! (I think my kids have forgiven me.)
I was a jittery mess as I got off the plane in Wichita. We still didn’t have much of a plan. Lil Bro knew my sister was coming for the graduation, but he didn’t know I was coming or that we would celebrate his birthday. We hadn’t figured out the how of our surprise. Ms. Organized had to take deep breaths and trust it would work out. As I came down the escalator in the airport, I saw my Sis at the bottom and hurried over to hug her. As I turned back, I saw him. My Big Bro. My heart did a dance. My legs began jumping up and down. My mouth made it known to all around! “You did come! You did come!” I hugged him tight and wanted to cry. I was ecstatic.
Big Bro gifted this extra surprise out of love for me and Sis. He’d surprised her, too, and took the chance she’d have room in the car for him. My heart was so happy. And it would be such a great gift to our Lil Bro.
Lil Bro reacted the opposite of me. He was stunned to see us all in his living room and his shock silenced him. The pastor without words! What a moment. But that quickly cleared and he, too, was ecstatic.
We celebrated. We had God-moments no one could have planned. Wonderful gifts, like kisses from our good Father-God. It was better than I could have organized or imagined or thought of.
It reminds me that God is always working on our behalf in ways we cannot always see. We pray and don’t see the answer we want, then suddenly it comes in a totally unexpected way and we are thrilled because we realize He’s been planning this to be even better than we could have expected. I admit, Big Bro doing it this way, was even sweeter.
When everyone had left Monday but me, I took a walk. Alone. Down the road I’d lived on for the first 21 years of my life. The tears flowed. Not tears of sadness but of gratitude. This road held so many memories for me already. This weekend added many more.
My 2 brothers and one sister are 16 years apart in age and I’m right in the middle -8 years from each. We live in 4 different states & 4 different landscapes. Sometimes it feels like we don’t have a lot in common except our parents. We don’t agree on where it’s best to live, (I love the big city, the other 3 are rural dwellers), or what’s best to eat. ‘You haven’t eaten bacon in 30 years?’ ‘Why would anyone use that disgusting cilantro in anything?’ We don’t all agree on faith issues, but without words or really saying so, we’ve agreed to love well.
The road took me past the farmhouse my grandpa built and where I’d lived until I married. I picked up stones along that road where I’d lived the first 21 years of my life. One was broken and reminded me that brokenness is often a part of families, but there’s always healing and forgiveness if we choose it. We’ve had that in our family. I’ve been the broken one and I’ve been the forgiven one. One stone had a golden tint to it. I choose to think we’ve learned to find the gold that has value in each other and brush off the valueless dirt. One stone was simple and plain with a little crack. That fits us too!
We had many moments to savor as we created new memories together. The moments of surprise top the list, and a close second was watching Lil Bro split open his adult piñata with a shotgun (no blindfolds). If you’ve not had an adult pinata, it’s filled with fun goodies for “old” bodies! Not sharing details, but if you need some stinky, menthol chest rub, the grass still smells like it.
Families have seasons. Ours is no different. We blossom, we have storms, we grow in new ways, we grow apart, we give surprises. We make the effort to build new memories. Maybe we cherish them more because they are rare. But always we find ways to create memories and build on the heritage our parents gave us. This Mother’s Day, I think Mom (and Dad) would be honored to know that we chose to continue their legacy of surprises, jokes, playing games, recalling memories, making new ones, sharing hugs and prayers. And taking time to celebrate the moments together.
Copyright © 2016 Nadine Patton.
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