There are many surprises that come into our lives. Some are good surprises and some are bad.
I don’t like surprises myself because I like to know the who, what, where, when and why of everything so I can PLAN it.
Yet from time to time, I come across a surprise that impacts me greatly.
I’m not talking about the someone popping out of a cake surprise–I’m talking about the kind of surprise you receive when you find out your life has been impacted by someone else or that you impacted someone’s life by a single act of kindness and it just grabs at your heart.
I had a surprise like that just this week.
There is a person that I don’t know very well but who I love and who I have a very high respect for–that passed away this week.
As a matter of fact, I have never met this person face to face, but I have known about her most of my life and carried her with me as I carry many people I care for.
It is a hard thing to explain.
I am, among other things, the family historian. I keep the family tree, many of the family stories, some of the family secrets and as many pictures of family members–past and present–that I can get my hands on.
This has been a self appointed role–not one that anyone said I had to take on. And I do this for my own pleasure and curiosity.
I don’t do this to judge family members’ lives or the choices they have made–after all, who am I to cast the first stone?
In researching a branch of my mother’s family 4 months ago, I found my mother’s sister. My mom is 75 years old and her sister, 77.
Through the twists in life and other circumstances they had lost touch with each other, both migrating to this wonderful country from their native land at different times under a different set of events.
They had not spoken to each other in over 60 years when they were both barely young teenagers in another country and another time.
They were able to reconnect, and I believe, both were very happy to have found each other again. Many phone calls, emails, cards, pictures and gifts have been exchanged over the course of these months.
For me, I found a whole new set of people to call family and my dear aunt had a daughter exactly my age. She and I communicate frequently thanks to the miracle of technology.
I feel very close to my cousin and care for her deeply–we have become not just family but friends.
Through them both, mother and daughter, I have been able to collect a few more family stories and information to fill in the blanks that I had–they have indulged me in my hobby.
Unfortunately, my aunt had cancer. In this short time that I came to know this woman, I grew to admire her strength, her resolve and her courage. She made sure to be strong when speaking to my mother over the phone because she did not want to worry her “little” sister.
My aunt and I shared the exchange of one long letter–one in which I told her all about my life and her reply that provided acceptance, encouragement and love. I was in the middle of sending her another letter that I will no longer be able to send.
But a beautiful surprise came to me in a letter from her, transcribed by her daughter–my cousin, my friend–because she was too weak to write herself.
It was information about a family business back in the old country and how the family was involved in it. She had told me she wanted me to know the story and she had promised to send it to me for my collection of family lore. The letter was written and put in the mail to me on the day she left this earth.
Sometimes, we do something simple, say something to someone, offer a smile and it changes another life.
A selfless act–a beautiful gift–and a surprise. She grabbed my heart as all good surprises are wont to do. It has impacted me greatly as I am sure her whole life impacted others–regardless of time and space.
May the Lord keep her in the palm of his hand, until we meet again.