…”other times by surprise”



The hours listed on this sign may not be a good formula for business success, but it is funny.

Other times by surprise.

What does that mean?  I want to know.  When are the surprise days?  Would I drop by the other four looking for the surprise day?  Would I ignore the open days advertised?  Why, yes.  Because this is how I often operate… looking for what is not and blowing passed what is.

Yes, I would keep faithful watch for the surprise days.  Which is dumb.  Dumb like my July 10 journal entry where I lamented my quiet, restrictive life, the needs of an elderly parent and ending with this:

I know I’m blessed but feel lost.  I know where I am but don’t know where I’m going.  And what the heck…what the heck if this is it?  What if this is the last outpost before eternity?

OK, that “last outpost before eternity” sounds a little drama queen-ish.  Clearly I was in need of down time.

And I was aiming for down time as we headed to the Oregon coast recently, although the trip wasn’t about me.  It was a military association gathering for my husband.  Wives welcome.

It takes time and planning for me to get away – – someone to be here 24/7 with my mom and to make sure everything she needs is here before I leave.  The planning and waiting for an event, also gives me way too much mental space to anticipate how my short-lived “freedom” will play out.

Once away, I knew I’d have time on my own, which is great.  Since we’re saving for a vacation in the fall,  I knew this would be a low budget weekend.  And that’s great too.  Still, my list of expectations was, as usual, unrealistic.

I pictured the great walking path down by the water.  I imagined a comfortable bed, the hope of good sleep and the peace being at the coast brings.  I brought good things to read.

In reality, the walking path I remembered was several miles away at the “nice” place we stayed at years ago.  Our room was clean, but that is all.  The bed felt like a rock.  The wooden chairs were reminiscent of a childhood “time out” for sitting in the corner.  There was road noise from the highway.  And I think our upstairs neighbors were clog dancing.

We were both unhappy with the noise.  We were both tired.  I wanted Doug to have a good weekend, but even he admitted a degree of disappointment.  I tried to describe how crazy it feels to work so hard just to have a little fun, when he said, both understanding and making fun of me, “it wasn’t magical for you, was it?”.

No.  It wasn’t magical at all.

But here is what that weekend was:

It was a time for Doug to spend with friends he shares a common bond with.  I’m glad he has that connection.

It was a time for good food and good conversation with good people.

We had a long drive going and coming home, through a beautiful part of Oregon and talked about our hopes for the future.  After all these years, I’m grateful we still have a hope for the future.

I spent a fair amount of time sitting on a surprisingly comfortable bench at the end of the pier watching the water, the boats, the birds and drinking great coffee.  My new favorite place, Coffee Girl.  Unfortunately it’s a five hour drive from home, so I won’t be back any time soon.



On Friday night, as Doug and his compadres sat around the campfire drinking beer, I stayed in our “luxury accommodation”.  I took all the pillows and a blanket and made myself a reading nook on our granite slab bed.  As my neighbors clogged upstairs (or whatever the heck they were doing!), I read an entire novel.  It was so good I didn’t even care!

Our last night in town we drove up the hill overlooking Astoria, to what they call The Colume.  Spectacular views.  If that was all we had done the entire weekend, it would have been worth it.



As we neared Portland on the way home, we called a son who lives nearby.  He and his family piled in their car and met us an hour later for lunch.  It was a sweet thing they would drop their Sunday plans and meet us.

When we finally made it home, Doug fell asleep in front of the TV.  I made a light dinner for Mom.  And when I took her hand to say grace before we ate, I will admit, it felt good.  This time of life is not easy for either one of us.  She’s been a good mom and one day her hand won’t be there to reach across the table.  I want to know I did the best I could for her, just like she always did for me.

The other day a Zig Ziglar quote popped up in my Facebook feed – –

Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.

I try to make gratitude a way of life, but sometimes get sidetracked looking for the “other times by surprise”.  I will remember this and the many ways my life is so very good.

2 thoughts on “…”other times by surprise”

  1. Sarge

    “The last outpost before eternity…” Not drama-queenish at all, Brooke. A cool line. A powerful line, I think. Just sayin’.


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