Life happens while you are making plans.
Life got in the way or rather bum airline schedules got in the way of specialist Jake Gaede surprising his family and the rest of the Mexican American community during the Fourth of July weekend.
Jake, 21, of Newton has been serving with the National Guard in the Horn of Africa.
He told his family he would be home on leave in late July, but secretly planned to surprise them during the July Fourth weekend, so he could be home for his father’s 50th birthday and the annual Mexican American softball tournament.
Jake planned to jump over the outfield fence and be a surprise addition to the Los Ninos roster.
However, a flight delay in London resulted in him not getting in to Newton until about 10:30 at night.
In the end, everyone seemed to know about Jake’s “surprise” arrival but his mother.
“I was having a bad day, things were just not going right,” Gina Gaede, Jake’s mother, said. “One of my friends told me my day was going to get better, and I said, ‘OK, whatever.’”
Gina anxiously called her husband, Jerry, “Where are you?” she inquired, annoyed she admitted.
The family all was supposed to be at the ballpark celebrating Jerry’s birthday.
“I am on my way,” he replied.
Gina did not know Jerry had gone to the airport in Wichita to pick up her son.
When Jerry and Jake finally made it home, Gina screamed in excitement.
“I didn’t expect it at all,” she said.
Jerry looked tentatively at his wife, “Are you still mad at me?”
“No, When I saw Jake, it was all OK,” she said, smiling.
Jake, 21, is providing port security in Africa as part of Battery C First Battalion 161st Field Artillery based out of Newton.
Even with temperature above 100 degrees, Jake said it feels cool in Kansas. Temperatures in the Horn of Africa are toping 120.
But Jake said what he misses most is his friends and family and maybe his family’s pork chili and beans.
The Los Ninos, Jake’s softball team, didn’t win the Mex-Am, but he said he got to spend some good quality time with his family.
Jake flew out Sunday to finish his tour in Africa. He is set to return sometime next spring.
Until then he will keep up with his family on Skype and Facebook.
His mother said she worries about her middle son, so far away from home.
“He is with a nice group of guys — guys he went to school with. They are guys I know and trust,” she said.
And from dad — pride.
“I am really proud of him,” he said, beaming. “I am really proud of all my boys, all my kids.”