Pleasantly surprised with a birthday cake in New Hamphire homemade by Melane.

Pleasantly surprised with a birthday cake in New Hamphire – homemade by Melane.

Speaking of birthday cakes which I did in my previous post has gotten me thinking about life’s pleasant surprises. Recently, one of mine was a birthday cake homemade by my nephew’s wife Melane when we all went up to the New Hamsphire Maple Weekend in March. Yes – homemade and delicious! It took me completely by surprise.

That has prompted a positive stream of consciousness for me as I pondered some other pleasant surprises in my life – a kiss in a silo, an off-key serenade from a boy in college, a handmade beaded necklace from my nieces, a congratulatory note from my sister, a note from my dad on my sixteenth birthday, a watermelon boat my sister-in-law made for a surprise party my family gave me that same year, tubing down the Natchaug River, a campfire on a Cape Cod beach, a drive up to the Yankee Drummer Inn.

The congratulatory greeting with a gift card inside from my sister was given to me for a journalism award I won this May. It brightened my day to think of someone else acknowledging an accomplishment that means a great deal to me.

The beaded necklace …

Handmade by Katie & Sofia.

Handmade by Katie & Sofia.

a few years ago, a gift arrived in the mail from my nieces in Seattle, Katie and Sofia. It was a beautifully, delicately handmade beaded necklace. I was told they selected the design and color of each bead with me in mind – beach motifs in mostly soft pastel colors with one central deep black shell. I adore this necklace and wear it in the spring and summer seasons. Each time I touch my hand to it, I think of the love with which it was made and that warms my heart.

Turning the clock back to the morning of my sixteenth birthday, I came downstairs to find a a note set next to my breakfast plate addressed to me in my father’s very distinctive handwriting (he was left-handed). It was surprising because my mother usually wrote out our cards. When I opened it, inside it read simply – “Happy 16th birthday. I love you – Dad.”  I treasure it.

Later that same day family members began arriving at our home for what turned out to be a surprise party for me for which my sister-in-law Jane had carved out an amazing-looking watermelon boat filled with various melons that she had meticulously scooped for it – such a lovely surprise.

What was so surprising about that drive from Connecticut up to the Yankee Drummer Inn, located just beyond Sturbridge, Massachusetts? Well, not my dad but my mom was behind the wheel with only my nephew Mike and I in the car with her. I had never before seen her drive so independently, I had never before seen her drive on a highway. She was on a mission to retrieve one of my sisters who had gone up to New Hampshire to visit an aunt of ours for a week and the inn was the meeting point. For anyone who knew my mom, as the expression goes – ‘neither hell or high water’ – would have kept her from going anywhere to gather up one of her children. I remember a pleasant feeling of awe at seeing her in a new light.

Tubing down the Natchaug River – the surprise in this was the marvelous sense of freedom I felt as I floated along the currents on a hot, lazy August afternoon.

Nature also provided me with another wonderfully magic surprise – an evening campfire (thanks to a permit from the local fire department) on the beach in Harwich Port with a group of friends the summer after my freshman year at UCONN. If I close my eyes, I can transport myself  back to that evening. It was what Oprah Winfrey refers to as an ‘aha moment’ when I realized there was a world of possibilities open to me.

The off-key serenade was from a boy in college on a Thursday night after he got off of work.We went to Chuck’s lounge for a drink and to listen to the band. When the musicians stopped for a break, out of the blue he started singing to me – Jon Bon Jovi certainly had nothing to worry about because it was off-key. Nonetheless, it brought a smile to my face, still does.

Oh that silo kiss – when I was attending UCONN a popular off-campus restaurant was an old converted barn that had a tavern and dining room. One exit to the parking lot was through a tall, softly lit silo. It was late one Saturday night, my date and I were leaving the restaurant and he was holding my hand. When we stepped into the silo he stopped, took me in his arms and kissed me. It was one of those wonderfully pleasant surprises and a life moment that I think we each knew would always be remembered.

Another memorably unexpected kiss came om my graduation day from UCONN. My school of liberal arts was at Jorgensen Auditorium to have our degrees bestowed. We were not seated near friends rather had to sit according to directions we were given. As such, on either side of me were strangers. When the time came that we were told to transfer our cap tassels to signify having been graduated, the boy sitting next to me whom I had never seen before nor since, leaned over and  gently kissed me on the check – what a sweet surprise!

So, what is the point of this essay? There really isn’t one other than being reminded that as one faces everyday stresses and difficulties – life is also full of pleasant surprises. And for any of us, the next one may be just around the corner.