Jean Croker Petke

Are you prepared for a surprise?

Are you prepared for a surprise?

A few weeks ago a friend and I enjoyed breakfast at our local IHOP. We met there because they don’t care how long we stay which is usually all the way to lunch time.

She and I have known each other 45 years. It wasn’t friendship at first sight; the friendship grew slowly, especially in the beginning. Through all these years, we’ve never had a falling out, never been angry with each other, and never stopped speaking to each other. In fact, we’ve never run out of things to say for over four decades! We certainly don’t agree on everything. The glue that holds us together is deep mutual respect. Respect for our differences. Respect for our perspectives. Respect for our decision-making processes. Respect for how we deal with our life stuff: husbands, children, grandchildren, medical crises, financial crises, frustrations, sadnesses, successes, and joys.

We also share contentment with our lives. Of course we have ample opportunities for change. We’ve been tested by challenges and difficulties. But underneath we believe: life is good, we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be, doing exactly what we’re meant to do. Hence, we have contentment.

I’m sounding as though we are one entity, which we definitely are not. We are distinct individuals, each with our own goals, quirks, and circumstances — and living very different lives.

Near the end of our last breakfast, she said, “You know I’m about ready for lunch.”

“Me, too,” I said.

We both admitted that in times past we’ve stopped for lunch on the way home after breakfast.

“A McRib sounds really good,” she said, eyeing the McDonald’s across the street.

“You like McRibs?” I asked. She nodded. “I never knew that!”

I was astonished. A McRib has been my favorite sandwich for years. I just never knew it was her favorite as well.

We paid our tab at IHOP, crossed the street to McDonald’s, ordered McRibs and savored every bite.

Discovering our mutual love for McRib sandwiches felt like a gift I’d just unwrapped. I started pondering as I drove home. How is it, that in all the years we’ve known each other, all the things we’ve talked about, and all the times we’ve shared, we never knew we each loved McRibs. How could we both have missed this revelation?

After much thought I realized that we’d never been at a McDonald’s together when they had McRib on the menu. Never. We’ve been to McD’s countless times but never at McRib time. It’s as simple as that.

So, I’ve been wondering about the possibility of surprise in long, long relationships — the kind where you think you know the other person really well. Perhaps, you know them better than they seem to know themselves. At least, your perspective is different. We don’t look for or expect surprises then, because we believe we know all there is to know.

I’m here to tell you, “Be open for surprises. They’re awesome and well worth the wait. Worthy of celebration.”

Until next Tuesday . . .