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Jennie's Journey

Best gifts can't be bought

Recently I learned how much a person really can appreciate a good surprise.

My mother had driven up from her home in the Willamette Valley. She wanted some "grandma time" with her grandchildren and decided she would have them visit her for a few days.

By doing so, she set me up to provide her with the perfect birthday surprise.

I haven't spent my mom's birthday with her in more than 10 years. Therefore, the scheming and planning took root the day before my children left for the "Oregon sunshine."

I informed my husband that I was going to travel to see my mother on her birthday. He was supportive of the idea and we both kept the secret from the children because...well, children sometimes say the darndest things.

The plan was taking shape and my excitement was building. I almost slipped the morning my children left. As I kissed each of them goodbye before leaving for work, I nearly said, "See you Thursday."

The youngest of the three stayed here. He is a "mommy's boy" and we felt he would probably get homesick quickly.

So, he and I guessed as to how grandma would react when we arrived. We had to be careful not to allow our surprise to slip from our lips during conversations throughout the couple of days before our trip.

But, we pulled it off. In fact, my mother even called me on the day of her birthday to inform me she was taking the other two shopping for a book in a series my oldest child was reading.

In the course of the conversation, she asked if I could meet her in Goldendale to shave some of her travel time when the children were headed home. I assured her that I could indeed do so.

Haha!!!! She had no idea she would see me that evening.

The youngest child and I set out for Grandma's house that afternoon and arrived at our destination at 8 p.m.

I thought it was great timing because it was an hour before the children's bedtime and we could all enjoy it.

I, apparently, scheme too well. My sister was watching my children while my mom went out for a birthday dinner.

I felt badly for my young son who had been so eager to yell, "Happy Birthday, Grandma!" when the door opened.

Thus, we waited until my mother's return.

When she did arrive...She was nearly in tears at seeing me seated in her living room. She was full of hugs and kept expressing her wonderment at what a great birthday present I had provided her.

So, I guess the message is that sometimes it isn't material goods that provide the best surprises...it's often just being there.

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