I don’t even have to try to generate story ideas.
Life just keeps handing them to me.
May I present to you –
A Portrait of a Sunday.
How We Surprised Uncle Danny and Got a Little Surprise Ourselves.
On Sundays in our home we sleep in. We make a big brunch together. We attend our church’s evening services. And that’s about as busy as we like our Sundays to be.
But for the sake of love we broke from routine, rose early, loaded the car with picnic supplies and headed to Knoxville, Tennessee to surprise Uncle Danny for his birthday.
Aunt Beckey and their son Max were pulling together the other end of the surprise. We arrived at our rendezvous spot, the World’s Fair Park, only to find the entrance blocked off and a large race being prepped for the day.
No worries. A quick google search sends us to another park and we agree to meet there.
It’s lovely fun to surprise a person who truly does not suspect anything and Uncle Danny had no idea the kids and I were hiding out at this sweet little picnic spot.
My children adore their uncle and he’s a pretty lovable fellow who adores them just as much. All the mutual feelings. We sat in the shade, ate lunch, caught up, threw a kickball into the trees, sang happy birthday and were momentarily disappointed that the breeze rendered our trick candles completely ineffective.
It was a perfectly wonderful picnic and surprise.
Then we headed back across the mountains and through the tunnels (for real) and back home. I commented that the air conditioner was not very cold and that the car still felt hot inside. We were stopped in traffic for a bit, cars backed up in one lane for several miles. I see that the exit ramp is the problem – there’s construction or something happening there. Naturally it’s our exit but there was no way I wanted to sit still in that line so I decided I could just go up and take another road back through Asheville.
Barely off the exit, a blinking light on my car alerts me. Suddenly about eighteen blinking lights are talking to me. Stabilitrack off. Engine hot. Air conditioner turning off. Check engine. Service engine. Engine overheated. Power loss.
All of those blinking lights were telling the truth.
It’s funny how at that moment you forget where your hazard lights are.
I turned those on and proceeded at approximately 4 miles per hour. I pulled into the first parking lot to the right. McDonald’s.
The car barely does it, but it somehow slides into a parking space and as I turn the engine off the kids exclaim, “Oh – there’s smoke or something coming from the engine.”
That was a first for me. We’re 45 minutes or so from home. And this car will not be getting us there tonight.
Turns out, trimming this story up for you all, that Oma and Papa Dale were driving through town in their RV on the way up to the Virginia farm and were originally hoping to have dinner and hang out with us tonight. Instead, we ate at McDonald’s and they drove their RV up to rescue us.
Which was like a miracle.
We sat in the McDonald’s parking lot for a handful of hours. We played a few games. Watched Tripp & Tyler videos. Made a dozen phone calls to figure out towing and car solutions. Spent thirty minutes on the phone with my car insurance company only to realize that I do not have roadside assistance. Realized that I really should invest in Triple A or something already. For the love.
Praised God for allowing us to not have been waiting in that long line of cars on the interstate when the car overheated because interstate waiting for all the hours would have been far worse than McDonald’s parking lot waiting for all those hours.
Praised God that my brother and his wife kept checking on us and insists on helping us in some manner even though this is not their problem.
Praised God for the remarkable good attitudes of my kids as they laughed and joked and – seriously – never once complained or whined or acted like their lives were the worst. (I am astounded at what good company those humans are in a crisis. And I told them so tonight.)
Praised God that Oma and Papa Dale were able to rescue us and rejoiced when we saw them pull up.
It was actually wonderful to ride back home together and laugh and share stories and how gracious and kind of them to act as if it wasn’t a pain to spend more time in their gigantic rig on the highway today, back tracking and hauling people around.
By the time we reached our driveway it was full on darkness and well after 8:30. The RV is much too large for our driveway and there was literally no way it could even be pulled in. We all had a good laugh as we realized that Oma and Papa Dale had to literally stop in the road and just let us off by the mailbox, cooler and bags and all.
And, I was reminded again of what I love about my people as we walked up our sort of long driveway in the dark, hauling a cooler and a handful of bags filled with food in them. I love that (mostly) when struggles or frustrations come, particularly ones we have to face as a unit, we are able to let big deals become small deals and laugh at the ludicrous. It was really comical, the six of us walking up our driveway by moonlight, laughing and being unbearably loud for such a random time of night. (Yes, our neighbors heard us – they told us.)
We may not have our car in our driveway tonight, but we’re all home with our dog and our cat and one another and we all still like each other and tomorrow we’ll have to trust the new morning mercies to take care of the rest.