What a day! Martha, the youngest of our five children, told us two weeks ago (or so) that she wanted to take us out to dinner for our (30th) anniversary, which is tomorrow.

“What are you guys doing on Sunday?” She wanted to know if we had plans the day before our anniversary. Maybe just to get away for a day. Maybe go for a long drive, which we like to do; drive to… wherever… then stop and do whatever. Depends where we end up.

Were we free? Why did she want to know?

Our traditional Independence Day celebration is at my mom and dad’s house in Morton Grove. We typically arrive before the parade and head to Harrer Park just before dusk for the best fireworks in the area.

So it was going to be a late night. We usually don’t get home until right around midnight.

Kathy and I told her that we didn’t have any plans. Since the Fourth was on a Saturday this year and Friday was the legal holiday, Kathy has to work Monday, our actual anniversary.

Despite her attempt to get the day off months ago.


We were just planning to relax and recoup after a hectic Saturday, so no… we had no plans.

Last week, she gave us the “bad news” that after our late night of fireworks and way too much food at Mom and Dad’s house, we would need to leave really early on Sunday. She made a reservation and the only time she could get was early.

And she wasn’t kidding that we needed to leave early. 9:30. That’s early for a dinner!

Where the heck were we going? St. Louis??

She wasn’t telling.

But it was her treat and she wanted to surprise us.

Sure enough, we didn’t get home last night until 12:02. It was going to be a short night. We figured we could go to church at St. Therese. They have an 8:30 Mass. And we could leave right from there.

The best laid plans…

Despite the cats’ best efforts, they couldn’t wake me up until 7:36.


We were going to be late for church…

We managed to get there just after Mass began, but we were going to have to stop at home before leaving for the restaurant.

Martha asked if she could drive. It was her surprise, so of course we agreed.

We drove south. I-294 to I-88 and off the highway near Oak Brook.

I guessed wrong. As we approached our destination, I thought we were going to The Melting Pot in Downers Grove, one of Martha’s favorite restaurants.


We ended up at Drury Lane.

We were going to see a show!


As we walked inside, Martha told us we were having brunch.

When we walked into the dining area, her secret was exposed.

Aidan and Andrew! I saw two of our grandsons walking into the buffet area.

At two tables in one of the large dining rooms sat our other four kids, spouses, their kids, Martha’s boyfriend, Chris, and Mom and Dad.

The tears began flowing immediately.

If you live or ever visit the Chicago area, you must visit Drury Lane for their Sunday brunch. There were more food choices than you can imagine. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Dessert. Ice cream bar. Fruit bar. Salad bar. At least half a football field long.

I’m not doing it justice.

But that’s not the point of my story.

It was the surprise.

The masterful job done by Martha to orchestrate everything.

We thanked each of the kids profusely and every one of them told us that it was all Martha’s doing.

We stayed, ate, drank, talked, laughed (after Kathy and I finished crying), drank and ate and talked some more.

And ate some more.

And said we were full.

And ate some more.

We stayed for more than three hours. We “closed” the joint. Well… at least the buffet.

Stephen had to leave early because he had to work. He does some work at the fitness center in Waukegan on Sundays. Duty called. He left around noon.

Before we left, we asked one of the waiters to snap a photo, sans Stephen.

Thanks, Mom and Dad. Thanks, Chris. Thanks, Stephen. Thanks, Doug and Amy. Thanks, Andy and Cheryl, Andrew, Addison, Catelyn, and Charlie. Thanks, Sarah and Dan, Alexis, Aidan, and Ethan.

And thanks, Martha.

We love all of you so much we can’t stand it. Thanks for a weekend full of fun, full of love, and capped with one massive surprise.

Anniversary Surprise

Anniversary Surprise

10 Responses to Surprise!

  1. Joan says:

    Oh, this is no nice. Wishing you and Kathy a very Happy Anniversary. And here’s to 30 more!


  2. DeeScribes says:

    What a wonderful surprise! Happy anniversary!


  3. Excellent surprise, and speaks to the character of your family! Happy anniversary.


  4. What a terrific surprise. Happy Anniversary, and many more.


  5. Staci Troilo says:

    What a wonderful surprise. Happy Anniversary!


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