Surprises, well I guess they have an upside.

Most my life I have not been a fan of surprises.  Not really sure why.  I guess I like to know what is coming so I can prepare.  People who know me know I  analyze just about everything.  A surprise does not give me a lot of time to analyze.  I am all about the details at work, even the minor details.  I apologized to my current boss one time because sometimes the details I think about point out issues we need to address on what might seem like a no issue plan.  He called it my “super power”.  I felt a lot less sorry after that.

So far there are a few major surprises in my life that supported my aversion to surprises.  Coming home from summer camp in Jr High to find out we had moved.  We were still in Issaquah, but I had no conscious knowledge we were moving.  According to my mom I was always reading a book and not paying attention.  Sounds about right.

When my sister’s family moved to Alaska.  Sounds silly, I know.  But I just had not considered anyone in my family would move so far away.  I have recovered, barely.

Finding out my dad had prostate cancer about 25 years ago.  As my dad says, none of us are getting out of here alive.  But he was still young…just 55.  I can call that young since I am 50 this year.  50 isn’t old, so 55 can’t be either.

More recently, finding out Steve had Parkinson’s about 8 years ago.  Then 5 years ago finding out it was not Parkinson’s and he was terminally ill with MSA.  How could this be?  He was physically active, didn’t drink, smoke.  He had a weakness for sweets.  He lived live fully.  He couldn’t die first.  But he did.

A few days ago my dad sent us an e-mail about an encounter he had at his medical appointment.  And this reminded me.  Not all surprises are bad.  So here are a few good surprises that I don’t mind at all.

Finding out Chris has loved me as long as I have loved him.  Since we meet at the age of 5.  We were slow getting together, but worth the wait.

Seeing the Tigers at the Cougar Mountain Zoo this last Friday.  We missed the Tiger feeding because they had 2 tiger exhibits and we were at the wrong one.  The zoo staff was so nice and walked us to the correct exhibit and arranged for the tigers to be fed again for us.  Being so close to my favorite animal and the kindness of the staff brought me to tears.

Showing up for the rehearsal of our wedding and seeing the Christmas Tree decorated in the sanctuary.  All of our, well my, wedding decorations were wrapped up in that tree.  A week before the wedding we found out the church was not going to put up the tree that year.  I was devastated.  But my dad had connections, having been the minister of that church in the past, and he and others made sure the tree was there.

Getting a text from someone special on Mother’s Day.  I don’t have children so Mother’s Day is about celebrating my own mom.  But this year someone texted me on Mother’s Day to let me know how much they loved me and appreciated me and my support in their life.  Best Mother’s Day ever.

Getting to meet Jax while working in Yakima.  So this was not a complete surprise.  It took a little coordination and planning.  But their original route to Colorado did not include going by Yakima.  So when the route changed and the timing worked out it was fabulous to have that hour.  So very thankful.

Oh, and the surprise my dad shared that got me thinking…the nurse asked him if he was Steve Birdsall’s dad.  Absolutely.  She then shared that her son has Aspergers and Steve was his teacher in elementary school.  She said Steve had always been so patient with her son and she was thankful.  What a small world, right?

I laid in bed, tears streaming down my face.  Sad tears?  Yes.  But also tears of something else.  Not sure what to call it.  But every now and then I am surprised by something new I learn about him or am reminded about how Steve touched so many lives in such enduring ways.  I have done blogs on the items below so I will try to keep the details slim.  But this is what I am reminded of.

The stranger that Steve sat by on his last return from Hawaii in 2010.  This man was not thrilled to see he was going to have to sit by Steve.  By then MSA had taken over Steve’s physical body.  He leaned to the side, couldn’t straighten up, he moved slow, talked slow and soft.  By the end of the flight the man told us his life had changed.  Six hours with Steve and he was transformed.

The way he could connect to people who others would ignore, bully or pity.  We learned about this from an old high school classmate of Steve’s who had cerebral palsy and limped.  Steve not only noticed her, but found a way to make sure he saw her and that she was not alone.  When other kids might have walked around her, avoided her, Steve would walk right up to her bump into her gently, smile and say something funny to make her smile or lean in and say something to let her know he got her.

And imagine my surprise when I found out a couple years ago that Steve used to take my guy friends fishing when we were kids.  This may not seem so surprising…but remember Steve is 8 years older than me.  So when he was 20 I was 12…so my friends were 12 or younger.  When I found this out I was like Hey, that was my brother!  I wanted to go fishing!  I was surprised by how jealous I was.  But I can’t begrudge those times when I hear how much it meant to them.  That Steve reached out to them, took them fishing, spent time.  Steve was not a big talker, but time spent fishing spoke volumes.

I could go on and on.  This encounter with the nurse was another pleasant morsel about Steve, a surprise encounter at a medical appointment that I am sure my dad was dreading.  He has these appointments every 3 months and he never likes having to go.  But at least this day, it might have felt worth it.

So the tears, I still don’t know what they are.  Still grieving, so a dose of that.  The Birdsall emotions when hearing something so sweet about Steve from the mom, yep that too.  Feeling a little lacking, probably…when I hear these things I ask myself if I think people will have these kind of stories about me to tell my family…maybe a few but definitely not this much.  Some sadness that I did not know all these things while he lived, absolutely.  Don’t get me wrong, Steve could be a stinker…but he was quietly sweet too.  And lastly, gratefulness that these people take the time to let us know.  They don’t hold back, afraid to tell us these stories.  Instead these little surprises sneak up on us at the most normal times in our lives and give us a little smile…even in a medical appointment getting ready to get a shot in the keester.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. skinhorsereal
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 09:13:48

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    Thanks Lisa, well done. I also like to hear stories about Steve that come from people I have never met. This woman was so appreciative of Steve and his influence in her son’s life. She also gives good, painless shots with a really big needle.


  2. Becky
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 20:15:29

    Lisa, Such a beautiful expression of your thoughts, memories and emotions. I love you.


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