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Something Unexpected

I never thought I was a bad son, but I definitely didn’t always make it easy for my Mom.

For a few years, it was just Mom and us four kids. She had her hands full to say the least. When our stepdad, Wynn, entered the picture, things got easier, but it wasn’t due to any contribution I was making.

It was spring of my sophomore year. Wynn came in the house and asked my older brother and I if we had any plans for Mother’s Day. Ben shrugged and I barely looked up from my video game. Sounding frustrated, and a little exasperated, he said, “Just once, I wish you two would surprise us.”

The day went on. Wynn went back outside to work, Ben to baseball practice (probably). For some reason, I could not get that phrase out of my head. I took it personally. “You want to be surprised? Fine.”

My parents were leaving for the entire week of spring break on some pig trip, so I waited until their tail lights left the driveway and got to work. Recruiting the help of a buddy, I spent the entire week giving our front yard a complete overhaul. I picked up decades of decaying leaves and sticks, repositioned antique farm equipment I found underneath, brought in a variety of potted plants, and mulched the heck out of the entire thing.

I stood leaning on my shovel as my parents pulled into the driveway. Wynn got out of the truck and looked at my, dumbfounded. I wiped my forehead on my shirt and said, “Surprised?”

What started as an act of spite to prove I was a worthwhile son, resulted in a project that changed the literal landscape of our home. Mom was able to keep up with the newly made-over yard and it looks manicured to this day.

The surprise was meant to be a Mother’s Day gift, but admittedly, I found joy in providing the surprise.

No matter how stubborn, inconsistent, grumpy, or flat out disagreeable we have been, we can always surprise people. Don’t let someone’s expectations of you keep you from surprising them.


Surprise someone close to you, even if they don’t deserve it.


When was the last time you intentionally upset someone’s expectations of you for a positive purpose?


”How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.” - Morgan Freeman

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