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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks


I love surprises. Obviously not all of them, as evidenced by our need for a new roof. But most of them.

I remember the very first time I became aware of it. A girl I went to elementary school with came in one day and told how she had arrived at home the day before, and there had been a package on her bed from her father. Her mother had passed away, and she was being raised by her grandparents. Hers had not been an easy life so far, and yet I saw how much happiness this simple surprise brought to her.

Another thing...I love surprise endings in movies and books, the kind that leave you gasping and wondering how you didn’t see it coming.

Receiving flowers is always a great surprise. Last Friday, my cousin sent me flowers with a simple card that said, “Hope the weekend is better than the week.” They are still perfectly gorgeous and bring a smile every day.

One year for Mother’s Day, when Madi was little, she gave me a book. It was a small paperback, a mystery, and it couldn’t have been more than six dollars. I think she even conned her grandmother into paying for it, but not only was the book she got from an author I loved, it was the next in the series I was reading. She paid attention, and did a little sleuthing of her own.

Not long ago I went to the Teal Turnip here in Charlotte and had an amazing lunch. I was surprised when the food arrived and it turned out to be the best Cubano sandwich I’ve ever eaten.

The thing I get surprised by most often is people's behavior. I’m afraid it’s usually a good surprise because my bar is so low. I expect crazy driving in Charlotte, so when someone slows down and lets me in, I feel like they’ve given me the Hope Diamond.

I received a surprise this week that was even more heartwarming. Each year St Francis holds a 24-hour prayer vigil. Someone is in the sanctuary praying for 24 hours straight, and somehow I am in charge of the sign-up sheet. 24 hours in 30 minute increments. That’s 48 time slots that need to be filled, and half of those times are in the wee hours of the night.

People are busy; weekends are when we try to catch up on our sleep, and it’s cold when you are warm in bed and have to get up and come out at 3:00 in the morning. There are so many reasons not to participate. And yet, when the sign-up sheet made its way back to me, after being passed around, it was full. The most inconvenient times filled first.

To top it off, the men who signed up for those darkest hours made a plan to come early and stay late, bring a telescope, and look at the stars while waiting for their turns, assuring me that they would be there if someone couldn’t make it. It’s not just the volunteering, it’s the spirit of it all. Surprise!

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Melissa Slayton
Melissa Slayton

The Teal Turnip - what a cute name!!!

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