Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An Unexpected Surprise at Eggspectation

This past month—May 12 to be exact—my wife and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. From the beginning we dreamed of grandiose plans of a romantic getaway to celebrate such a milestone: a location only reachable by plane; warm weather; opportunities to splurge on fine cuisine; time alone to…ah, talk like newlyweds (cough, cough) while reminiscing upon the memories of our honeymoon. But as the date drew closer, the reality of such a dream-like getaway became obviously just that—a dream.

With my wife’s parents in Poland we were left with only my parents and older sister as resources to help assist with our two precious daughters. However, with my mom’s shaky health, it became increasingly clear that it would not be possible to have my parents watch them especially the younger one on the verge of crawling.

With plan A clearly on the backburner, we went to work on plan B. Possibly we could figure something out that would at least give us a few hours together of uninterrupted time. Granted, it would not be quite the extravagant plans we had previously conjured; but nonetheless, we could celebrate together!

Secretly we hoped that perhaps my family would offer to watch our two girls for a few hours since it was our ten year anniversary. As the weeks passed by and no offer made, we went to work to figure out who else within our circle could take on such a task (an energetic 3 year old coupled with an 8 month old who required ample attention). A dear lady from our church, Ann, came to mind—a kind, thoughtful, cheerful woman, one who was a youthful 60. My wife called her and she graciously accepted the challenge to watch our two girls for four hours on the date of our anniversary, from 2-6pm.

We were elated! All Aneta could talk about for a week leading up to May 12 was our anniversary date—it would be a time of bliss. Questions constantly poured forth: where would we go, what restaurant would we select, what food would we order, would we be able to walk around a historic area? The more we talked about it the more the anticipation grew. I could see the excitement in her eyes, a sparkle of hope. We both love our two precious daughters, but we were looking forward to our time together—alone, uninterrupted for four hours. We were dying to embrace the romantic within as we renewed our commitment to one another on this special day. This would be a time of rejuvenation.

On Wednesday, May 11 Aneta received a phone call from a person with a somewhat hoarse voice. Ann had somehow come down with a severe cold and was sent home from work; however, she assured us that she could still come over the next day to watch our girls. Although we were appreciative of her willingness to do so under such circumstances, we declined simply because our youngest had pneumonia and the last thing we wanted was for her weakened immune system to be exposed to further germs.

We were crushed. What could we possibly do now to plan for our long awaited anniversary celebration?

That morning I called my mom to see what they could do and she offered to watch Simone, our oldest daughter if we took Eliana with us. At this point we had exhausted our short list of trustworthy candidates who could possibly watch our youngest daughter.

Honestly, we were bummed. A lump of frustration persisted in my throat for the majority of the day. Without going into all the details, we just felt frustrated that our family could not do more to help us celebrate this special day. And I felt guilty for feeling this way as my negative attitude persisted.

Perhaps we had placed too much stock into the sentimental values of celebrating our anniversaries on the actual day that they transpire (we have a few different “milestones” throughout the calendar year that we intentionally celebrate as a means to honor Christ and to strengthen our marriage).

And as our day unfolded, many of the minor details were not coming together—simply reinforcing that negative jive within. “Oh great,” I retorted, “How am I going to make this day anything worth remembering on a positive note?”

Finally we dropped off Simone at my parents’ house with Eliana in the backseat. Our plan was to go first to the jewelry store. I had previously purchased a necklace that I felt would be appropriate to commemorate our anniversary. However, it was not quite what Aneta had in mind so we went back to Macy’s so Aneta could select one more to her liking. Our time was short since we had to get back home to put Eliana down for her afternoon nap for an hour. Aneta found a necklace that enthralled her! We raced home to put down a crying baby since we were well behind her normal sleeping pattern.

However, she never fell asleep as she was too overworked.

Finally we grabbed her and sped to the closest restaurant to us—Eggspectation in Gainesville. We had been there before and we both knew exactly what we would order, which would cut down on the time: Aneta ordered her favorite new grilled chicken and fruit salad (with fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries); meanwhile I ordered the Eggsuberant (eggs, pancakes, turkey bacon, potatoes, and fruit). We arrived at the outdoor patio with perfect weather. We plopped Eliana down who was in her seat as her eyes took in the change of scenery (thankfully she probably did not realize that she was technically the third wheel on our 10 year anniversary celebration!).

As our waitress took our order, we made mention to her that we were there to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Immediately, she enthusiastically congratulated us.

A cool breeze could be felt as we sat at our table in the shade. Aneta checked to make sure Eliana was properly clothed. I assured her that Eliana would be fine. We both slumped in our chairs. We were somewhat tired as we had been going nonstop for most of the day; yet, we were trying to enjoy each other’s company, but our attention was fixated on Eliana. Aneta started feeding Eliana her dinner so that she could focus on the meal once it was served. As Eliana swallowed her last bite, the waitress brought out our meals. Simultaneously another woman arrived at our table congratulating us on our anniversary. She commented on how cute our little girl was while asking, “Can I pick her up?” As we started eating our dinner this unknown lady walks around the patio with Eliana in her arms. It was obvious from the beginning that she had a knack for little ones.

Aneta and I glanced at each other as our eyes communicated, “Who is this lady?” I figured she either worked there or was a very good friend of the waitress.

As she walked around with Eliana, Aneta learned that she was a mother of two and a grandmother of three.

Finally she brought Eliana—smiling, and cooing with glee—back to her seat as someone from inside requested out to her attention. We thanked her profusely for giving us a few minutes with each other as she entertained Eliana.

The waitress came back to the table as we finished up our meal. She informed us that they were going to bless us with free desserts: one for each of us! We were taken back, shocked by their kindness. A few minutes later they brought our desserts to us just as the sweet lady returned.

“Maam, do you work here?” Aneta asked. “Oh yes,” she replied, “I’m the manager here.” Furthermore we learned that her name was Joe (at least that's what I understood she said).

She proceeded to pick up Eliana once again to entertain her so that we could enjoy our meal together.

Without question we were touched deeply by the generosity of this woman who blessed us above and beyond our expectation. She was a ray of sunshine bursting through a cloudy day. Humbled, we again expressed to the manager our deepest appreciation. Although our previous expectations for this day of celebration fell short, this act of kindness on behalf of the manager at Eggspectation helped us to enjoy a moment together while reminding us of God’s goodness towards us (and reminding us not to allow unfulfilled expectations to dictate our mood and attitude!).

Well, in closing I want to say, "Thanks Eggspectation and Manager Joe and the kind waitress at the Gainesville Eggspectation!"

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