Unexpected Beautifulness

You feel the goosebumps up and down your arms and the tears begin to flow unexpectedly. That moment – the moment that arrives with no warning. You are caught off guard and that is the beauty of it all. You can’t plan for the moment – or it’s ruined by the fact that you tried. You can’t know what the moment will be – because in knowing the moment won’t be the moment.

I, as a slight control freak, generally do not like surprises. My mind has the events of the day planned out weeks in advanced in excruciating detail with my iPad calendar(s) – yes, plural as a back up. No judgments, please. Deviating from the plan doesn’t come easily for me.

But there is one kind of surprise I love. When we took a trip as a family out West two years ago – I saw a sunset that lasted for hours as we drove through the flat desert in Arizona. It was absolutely amazing. I had no clue one of my most favorite memories would be found that day as we loaded the car at Phoenix and headed for San Diego.

That was one of many such surprises. I thought when we arrived at the National Park and got settled into our hotel room we would grab a couple of chairs off the deck and head 100 feet away and sit at the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Imagine my surprise at realizing there were buses that drove you to stops and even at each stop – you can only see part of the Grand Canyon! It’s so huge you only see a bit of it at a time! Who knew? Certainly not me! And, just in case your wondering, it’s not smooth either. It’s edges have layers and layers of sheer beautifulness. Only from the airplane could I gasp in wonder at the hugeness of the Grand Canyon.

I was also surprised – in a knot in your stomach kind of way – when we were at Hollywood. All that glamour and glitz you see on TV? Fake. Maybe you are smarter than me and already knew that. But, my heart was broken as we walked on the stars and saw homelessness, brokenness and pain.

I can never return to the West and experience the trip the way I did again. Even if I stayed in the same hotels or traveled the same route. The fact that I had never been there before and I didn’t know what to expect, made the trip what it was.

So, sitting in the midst of yet another snowstorm in Ohio in the middle of February, I was not expecting one of those moments – the kind you will think back over when you are old and gray with a tear in your eye. Stop rolling your eyes, I’m being serious.

As she began to sing I sat in amazement at the beauty of not only her voice but the way she flowed across the stage with confidence and grace. As the song progressed the tears began to flow. I was so proud of her. I couldn’t believe my quiet, reserved daughter was performing a solo in front of a crowd. I could see my caterpillar turning into a butterfly right before my eyes.

She was doing something I couldn’t teach her. She was finding her voice and becoming who God made her, uniquely to be. And it was a beautiful, unexpected moment that I got to see. I don’t know how she overcame her fear – but overcome she did!

As a young six year old in ballet, she froze at a performance and all the begging and bribing I did wouldn’t convince her to step away from the wall and perform. Late she told me through tears it was because I was there. She was too nervous because I was watching. It kind of broke my heart, I wondered if I put too much pressure on her. Didn’t she understand I was her biggest fan? If she succeeded or if she fell flat on her face, I would love her for trying!

My mind has stitched those two memories together. I can see the little girl in her tu-tu wide eyed and hiding her face in my lap and then I can see my beautiful 15 year old who has blossomed into more than I could have imagined. And that is why 2pm on a cold February afternoon a surprise moment occurred. I got to hear my angel sing for the first time. And just like the hour long sunset – it was so much more beautiful that I could have ever imagined.



I can feel the stress echo off his body as his hand cradles the phone. The knot grows in his stomach. Honestly, he doesn’t care either way. He just desperately wants both women to be happy. He will be lucky if he gets through this with both at least mostly placated. He knows he has it easier than some men. The thousands of miles that separate him from his parents keep these occurrences to a minimum. But, on the other hand, the occurrences are of hurricane proportion when they do occur.

Honestly, they are both great women. It would be so much easier if he didn’t like one of them. His heart is torn in two. On one hand is his precious Mama who gave him life. And not just the physical life – she gave him a great childhood. While she was a no-nonsense kind of mom – he never doubted her love for him. She served him and his three brothers selflessly – always putting others needs before her own. Often to the determent of her emotional strength. Then Dad would have to step in and rope the boys into giving her some much needed relief – for a few hours – until the testostronians were again back to doing what they did best and Mom was left holding the bag.

Then there was his wife. His precious wife. His life was so tightly intertwined into hers, he could never imagine life without her. He knew she loved him to the core. He loved having a best friend he could confide in – still loving to spend time with her after a quarter of a century.

Both women were strong women. Which in and of itself is usually a good thing. Strong women get things done. Strong women are great homekeepers and moms. Strong women also like things done their way. And..as long as both women were on the same page -or on separate continents – life was good. But, those rare occasions when they both had ideas and the ideas were polar opposites – well, this was one of those moments.

There was only one other in over 25 years and that was 5 years ago when his mom wanted a 40 year anniversary party thrown for her and dad at the children’s expense. It required a weeks vacation and travel to Tennessee. His wife was a nightmare throughout the whole ordeal. He gets chest pains even rethinking the event and the weeks proceeding up to it. His wife didn’t want to go and she was very vocal about it. His mom wanted it to happen and she was very vocal about it. Why, why couldn’t one of them compromise? In the end he had to put on a smile for the family and try and console his wife behind the closed doors. It was so stressful. All he wanted was for everyone to get along. Why couldn’t one of them put aside their wishes for one week?

Now it’s the 45th anniversary for his parents. And they want the family to fly to Germany. His wife is trying to be more patient and flexible. His mom – not so much. She has certain things that are important to her and she isn’t taking into account the effort or sacrifice they will cause. The one that is causing the tight grip on the phone at the moment is the revelation that she wants them to stay at the house while they are in Germany. He has already told her the family is planning to stay for a couple of days and then travel around Europe and then return for a few days before they leave. She is also insisting the whole family come at the same time – which may or may not be possible. She isn’t happy with anything less -and waiting until Christmas isn’t an option either.

Now – he is forced with the decision of telling his mom is isn’t going to work the way she wants – or going back to the drawing board with his wife. Which, may or may not be a good idea. Sometimes she is so hard to figure out. If only she had a flashing light above her head – green means go and red means stop. It would be most helpful. He can only hope this is a pre-menopausal thing and once she gets through it life will be easier. Where can he get one of those lights? If it were green, she would listen to his concerns about his mom’s wishes and possibly come up with a compromise or solution. However, if it is red she will either cry or yell and ramble on and on about how awful life is. He will have to distance himself from her rantings enough to stay calm and try and calm her down.

He gets her point. He really does. But, in the end – this is his mom. Doesn’t she see that? For no one else would he make or ask her to make these sacrifices. His mom is talking about not being on this earth much longer – which may or may not be true. Does he really want to not make the memories special for her? Will she have a 50th anniversary? She might. Or, she might not. Carpe diem.