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Day By Day: Surprises come in all shapes and sizes

When I look back I don't think I have had a particularly surprising life. On the contrary, I generally I feel like my aversion to risk-taking and fear of failure have resulted in a pretty pedestrian existence.

That sounds bad. I'm a pretty content person and happy and grateful but I wouldn't say surprising. But there have been some things along the way.

I got a big surprise on Valentine's Day that didn't cost my husband Kevin a thing. Our son Cory got married in Boston. We knew he and his fiancée Rachel were likely going to go the simple route when it came to their wedding. Cory doesn't go in too much for ceremony and he isn't exactly what I would call a detail person but I was surprised when that included not telling his mother he was getting married.

Thank you, Rachel, for texting us. Unfortunately she didn't know that it had slipped Cory's mind to let his old parents know. Way to start off with your new daughter-in-law -- blow off her wedding! When I called him on it, he was sure he had mentioned it but for the record, I was surprised! I'm thinking a good wedding gift would be a lifetime supply of Post-It notes to remind Cory of life's little details.

I was kind of surprised by my own wedding. I was 19, hadn't dated much and Kevin was not what I pictured. A hippie artist who at first didn't appear to have much of a sense of humor, I can't really account for why he asked or why I said yes at that tender age. Although it might have had something to do with the fact that I was afraid maybe nobody else would ask.

Again that sounds bad but we have been together 42 years. I think that qualifies as a pretty good surprise. Sitting next to him that same Valentine's Day at the Social Security office where we went to check out some things, I was more than a little surprised to think that all that is a lot closer than I realized.

We were married a long time before we had kids. Getting pregnant at all was a big surprise but to find out we were having twins was more like a shock. I can still see Kevin standing there in his white shirt and tie, black socks and no pants (he was changing after work) telling me I had to promise not to spring anymore "surprises" on him until after the kids were born.

That didn't work out. I have been a procrastinator all my life but that didn't stop the kids from coming three months early.

They were tiny and had to stay in the hospital for a couple of months. That took some getting used to but it was no surprise that they thrived. They come by their love of food genetically.

Over the years, Katie and Cory have done all kinds of things that have been very pleasant surprises and some that took some getting used to. But the biggest thing has to be that they are about to turn 25. Katie will get married to Josh this summer. I count him among my pleasant surprises these past few years.

Considering my kind of checkered past career-wise -- office clerk, insurance adjuster, and bad-news bookstore owner, I am a little surprised to note that I have been a reporter for this newspaper for 23 years now.

I still remember having lunch with Willis Miller at Dibbo's telling him I wasn't sure this was something I could do. He assured me I could and said there were lots of things to recommend the job, not the least of which is getting paid to be nosey. Among the hundreds of interviews I've done over the years, there are many of you out there who have both surprised me and enriched my life with your accomplishments, your challenges and your willingness to share.

You've read enough about politics in this space recently. Suffice it to say that there have been both great and disappointing surprises on that front. I think the biggest thing has been departure of civil discussion and disagreement and the tendency to believe whatever suits us, regardless of the facts or the truth. As a colleague says, we are entitled to our own opinions but not our own facts. It does surprise me how many people don't get that.

I have said it here before but among the best surprises I've had is finding the friends of lifetime right where I live. These women are a diverse bunch with two very important things in common -- an enormous affinity for laughter and hearts that are even bigger.

So I guess I consider myself lucky on a number of accounts. But let's get real. The biggest surprise of all has to be the finale of "Downton Abbey" Sunday night. Oh my god, I can't believe it!

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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