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Plans can change

I had my whole weekend planned.

That's the purpose of a three-day weekend. You cram as much as possible into your vacation from work. Whether it's a fun outing or a home improvement project you've put off, you want to wring the last bit out of all three days.

However, Friday evening of Memorial Day weekend those home improvement projects and party plans took a backseat when Mom and Dad Latzke walked right through my front door.

I couldn't have been more surprised if you'd told me pigs had evolved with wings and the ability to fly.

Now, I knew that my folks were in Missouri on business, but I thought they were on a tight schedule that wouldn't let them swing through southwest Kansas on their way home to Montana. And, I was okay with that. These things happen. I'm an adult, and I know that I can't always see Mom and Dad every time they leave the state of Montana.

What I didn't know was that was a ruse designed to catch my brother and I off-guard so they could surprise us. Just two days before they'd stopped over in Woodbine to visit my brother, his wife and their son. And then it was on to Dodge City to surprise me.

Now, I'm a reporter--I pride myself on being able to sniff out the story. My "Spidey senses" should have tingled when I hadn't gotten a call from Mom on my birthday, nor a card or a gift this entire month. I should have known something was up when Dad called me from the road, just to chat and ask me if I had plans for the weekend. My news radar should have blared when my own sister answered her phone when I called to ask a question about Mom and Dad's travel plans.

I must have been off my game. The signs were all there. I just never imagined my parents would do such a thing. I know my own family--my parents just don't "drop in" on their children. Living 24 or so hours, and three states away, plays a role in that rule. But, since my siblings and I managed to surprise Mom for Christmas a few years ago, she's wanted payback. I think she got it.

They kept the secret from me so well that when Mom walked through my front door on Friday, I honestly thought I was hallucinating and having an episode. See, in 31 years, my family has rarely been able to surprise me. It's not that I'm super-nosy, I just like to know what's going on around me. Whether I find it out through old-fashioned leg-work and tried and true snooping techniques, or whether I blatantly ask the question on my mind, I usually figure out what's going on one way or another.

That's what makes this visit all the more amazing. At any point the scheme could have come unraveled. I even asked Dad on the phone if they were in Kansas, and he point blank lied--something he's never been able to do before. Even the siblings played along, and I can get them to spill anything with the right questions and patience.

In the end, the surprise visit was wonderful and just what I needed. Sure, my house wasn't spotless, and the flowerbeds needed weeding. But, for once, I didn't care.

I showed off my roses to Mom and we talked about my landscaping plans for my yard. Dad and I managed to install a ceiling fan in my living room without burning the house down with an electrical fire. And, on Saturday, I baked Dad his Father's Day brownies, our annual tradition.

We managed to hit all of the highlights in a few short days.

As for those plans I had for Memorial Day weekend? There wasn't anything on that list that I couldn't put off until another time. The office wallpaper will still be there to strip next weekend, and the painting can wait.

But spending two days with my folks--now that's one birthday present I never planned on.

Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached by phone at 620-227-1807, or by e-mail at


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