About a month and a half ago I spontaneously bought a round trip ticket to Chicago for Mother’s Day weekend. I decided that I was going to make my trip a secret– I didn’t tell anybody I was coming home, not even my parents. When the day for the big surprise finally came, I brought my camera along with me and filmed each of my family members’ reactions one by one.

This is the result:

1. Mama

My flight from San Francisco landed at ORD at 4:30 AM on Friday morning. My AMAZING neighbor, Mrs. Messemer, was kind enough to wake up at that ungodly hour and pick me up from the airport so I wouldn’t have to pay for a $60 taxi fare. After waiting for my three siblings to leave for school, Mrs. Messemer helped me surprise Target Number 1: My mom!

Mama surprised face

My mom said she thought it was a landscaper who knocked on the door, since it was possible that she had forgotten to pay the landscaping bill.

2. Daddy

After the initial shock of seeing someone who was supposed to be 2,000 miles away, my mom brought me inside and help me launch my second surprise attack. My dad, who typically goes to bed after 3 AM and sleeps in until 10, was fast asleep when we quietly woke him at 8:30 AM.

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When, through crusty eyes and a groggy conscience, my dad saw me standing next to his bedside, he could only laugh and mutter a scratchy, “Hi, baby.”

3. Lily

I had to figure out a way to casually ask Lily what class she was in when I drove over to the high school at around 10 AM. Ultimately I ended up asking her to let me speak on the phone with her psychology teacher, Mr. Fernandez, when her class was over, which she informed me would be after fourth period. (Despite what it may seem, this is actually not an unusual request. Lily has helped facilitate casual phone conversations between Fran and me in the past. What can I say? He’s a cool dude.)

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I love the expression on all the other students’ faces as compared to Lily’s… they couldn’t give fewer f*cks about who I am or what I was doing there. THEY JUST WANT TO LEARN ABOUT FREAKING PSYCH OKAY?

4. Gus

Just minutes after her own surprise, Lily helped me secure the fourth target: My brother Gus. This was probably the easiest attack to coordinate of them all. Lily simply walked into Gus’s orchestra classroom, insisted she had something to show him in the hallway that COULD NOT wait, and pulled him out of class. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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And thennn I realized that Gus, my 16 year old baby brother, was taller than me for the first time EVER. (A moment we had both been waiting for since the day his balls dropped.) Cue tears.

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5. Keanu

I’m not going to apologize for Keanu’s completely emotionless reaction to my arrival, mostly because I find it tragically hilarious. His response casts a stark and bitter contrast against that of our siblings which some may find sad, but I find oh-so-Keanu. He was expecting my mother to show up at the Circle K to drop off his skateboard after school but found me instead. Hey, at least he smiled!

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6. Michaela

I met up with Keanu and his little crew outside of a nail salon in downtown Barrington about a half hour later to secure my sixth and final target: My baby sister, Michaela.

Michaela was getting her nails done with her friend, Lilly, when I walked through the salon door. Lilly’s mother, Mrs. Fitzgerald, who had helped coordinate the surprise, was there as well. (You can hear her in the video explaining to the crowd of housewives at the pedicure stations that I was Michaela’s older sister visiting from college, followed by the wave of “Ohhhhh”s and “Awwww”s.)

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When Michaela latched on for the hug, she did NOT want to let go. It was a very, very sweet reunion.

The rest of the trip was spent eating at all of my favorite hometown restaurants, not going to all of Keanu’s cancelled soccer/lax games, and convincing my parents to let the kids skip school so we could all hang out and do nothing. 🙂 So overall, I’d say it was a very successful weekend.

Oh, and this happened…




Written by Catherine Goetze

Catherine Goetze www.cathincollege.com Find me on social media! Facebook: www.facebook.com/cathincollege Twitter: @catherinegoetze Instagram: @catherinegoetze SnapChat: @catherinegoetze Contact me: cathincollege@gmail.com


  1. awwwwwwww! ngl I cried when you realized your younger brother was taller than you. the same thing happened to me this summer 🙂


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