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February 28, 2005

Mission Impossible Kentucky Style

A couple of weeks ago I opened our mailbox and found my weekly Messenger from the church I grew up in. In it was a notice that the church was going to have a surprise for my Grandmother during the Sunday service in honor of her retirement from the church office.

Sitting on the living room floor that night I started thinking out loud about how it would be nice to fly down and surprise her. Fabulous Babe agreed and after a few minutes of poking around on Expedia I found cheap round trip tickets. The next day I spoke to the office manager at the church about the idea. She thought it was good fun and after consulting with the Minister we were set. I bought the tickets and finished up the plans.

Friday after work I headed to the airport. The local airport near Ashland, Kentucky has irregular jet service so it wasn?t an option. (That leads to my joke that a lack of regular jet service now makes it a third world country.) Flying to Lexington would mean a shorter drive but would have been two flights through Detroit. Instead I opted for Cincinnati which was a 75 minute flight with a longer drive.

I violated my own rule of hotels this trip: Stay with what I know. The hotel we?ve always stayed at previously, a Hampton Inn, is one of the nicest in the area but a little out of the way. This time I decided to try the hotel they built while I was in high school that was going to be the hallmark of ?NEW THINGS? in the downtown. Call me old fashioned but I prefer my hotel to have hot water. That and safe parking. Clean sheets would be nice too. As soon as I get my review written up I?ll link to it.

Saturday I ran errands and met with my Brother and his wife. He?s the IT director for a regional bank that was recently bought out and he?s overseeing the migration from Novell to Windows right now. Saturday was a crunch time for him so all minutes spared was greatly appreciated.

Sunday came and I got to the church early for the service. The office staff hid me upstairs and out of the way until my grandmother had been through with her envelopes and paperwork. After she was on her way to the sanctuary I then worked my way around to the entrances behind the choir loft.

At the start of the service the Associate Minister read some announcements and then handed things back over to the Senior Minister, Dale. Dale stepped up to the microphone and said something along the lines of ?Sometimes when you have really big announcements you call in heavy hitters. We have some news that is so big we got the heaviest hitter we could find.? On that I then walked out.

Here?s a picture for some perspective: That?s Dale working the crowd with the doors concealed in the panel directly behind him.


In theory they have audio of my comments. Here?s the text as I had it written:

Good Morning! I?m Jim, Ruth?s grandson. I received my special copy of the Church Messenger a week ago and seeing the cunning plan that Dale and Jeanie had cooked up I made a call the next day to see if it was possible for me to speak today. As a testimony to my grandmother?s good deeds, and certainly not mine, they agreed. From the look on her face you can tell that Ruth?s a bit surprised.

From Sunday School to Vacation Bible School my grandmother has been involved with almost every aspect of our life here that you can think of. This has created problems along the way. It was only through great adversity that I was finally able to find out what it was like to ride the dumbwaiter. (She still almost caught me.)

Many of you know my grandmother from the office across from the Choir room on Sunday mornings where she has tallied attendance and offerings for over 40 years.

Being related to my grandmother brings with it a special responsibility as well. Since many of you have asked I?ll just go ahead and tell you her secret: It really was her natural hair color. (She washes it with Dial.) The grey you see now I take full credit for.

For almost a decade my grandmother has worked in the church office. One of the side effects was that no matter where I lived, Baltimore, Toronto, Seattle, St. Paul, the Church Messenger always found me soon after I moved. Always.

At this point I read some scripture and then invited everyone to stand and give my grandmother a round of applause. The look of stunned surprise on her face was just wonderful. I went down to sit with my grandparents for the rest of the service. The whole time she just kept smiling.

After the service everyone went down to the Fellowship haul for punch and cake. I spent the next hour passing photos of Jack around and having people say how they didn?t recognize me. Few people realize that Methodists are just as good as Locusts at leaving a plate bare.

Here's a picture of my grandmother with Dale:


Good fun.

Posted by Jim at February 28, 2005 11:10 PM


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