A sweet surprise

Family rallies around mother for first time in years.

Tesa George, Jana Shoats, Dèsirée White, Nathan George, Ottawa George, Janulee Shirvis, Tonya McGhee with daughter Olivia, Kodiak George and Theresa Shoats George. [Submitted photo]

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Posted March 26, 2024 | By Susan Smiley-Height, susan@magnoliamediaco.com

On March 19, Janulee Shirvis, 79, a resident of Ocala for 26 years, thought she was going out to lunch with a friend, but boy was she surprised when she instead was reunited with all four of her daughters for the first time in 22 years.

According to Dèsirée Shoats White, the second oldest of the siblings, they started planning the event months in advance but even then, they ran into some glitches.

“Each of the four of us had to make sacrifices and tackle many obstacles to make this happen,” she noted.

White lives in Kaufman, Texas. Her sisters are Theresa Shoats George of Waynesville, Ohio; Tonya Shoats McGhee of Kansas City, Kansas; and Jana Shoats of Kansas City, Missouri. Joining them for the surprise were three of Shirvis’ grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, ranging in age from 6 to 60.

“Our accomplice was our mother’s good friend, Jane Kurtz, who got our mother to Mojo’s on Silver Springs Boulevard in Ocala under the ruse of a lunch outing. The GM at Mojo’s, Henry Bechtel, hostesses Peyton Crews and Jennifer Thomas, as well as our servers assisted in the surprise,” White shared.

Janulee Shirvis with daughter Jana Shoats. [Submitted photo]

“We came in one group at a time, beginning with two of Theresa’s adult children, Tesa and Nathan George, followed a few minutes later by each of us girls in order of age, each appearing a few minutes apart, ending with the youngest,” White said. “Each appearance was met with a scream and tears of joy and disbelief. Mom’s first sentence she was able to complete with her four girls surrounding her and tears streaming down her face was, ‘This is better than winning the lottery!’”

White said that while family ties were renewed, “most importantly, we were able to honor our mother, who has always given and sacrificed so much for us as a single parent. We could never repay her for that, and any sacrifice or obstacle we faced to achieve the reunion seemed obsolete once we saw the pure joy it gave her.”

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