Friday, June 1, 2007

Lesson Learned

OK, I have come to realize that a vacation is not are easy as it looks! It's so fun to plan a "get away", but it takes so much work to get ready, especially if you are leaving the majority of your family behind!

Family trips are so much fun and memory building times, but they also require a huge effort to plan and get ready for!

So why even try? All the work for a "little" fun, and then twice as much work when you get home catching up on the laundry that you didn't do while away!

Here's why - looking back on my life, I seldom remember everyday things - oh there's a few times I remember - games played with someone, or an everyday event (like locking myself out of my parents home - that happened a lot to this latch key kid), but the memories that stand out clear are the times we got away from everyday life!

As I grew up, my parents took us camping - I mean way up in the hills, no campsites, no outhouses, driving for miles and miles on logging roads way into Mt Rainer National Forest! I remember riding behind my Dad on dirt bikes, getting swung in the hammock until I was sick, nearly drowning while my parents watched in horror across a mud flat (in which they sunk up to the knees when they tried to cross to save me - finally my Dad whistled (and boy could he whistle loud) and my brother heard and came running and pulled me out of the water - for some reason that memory is very clear to me!), camping at Birch Bay both when I was little (one such time my sisters accidentally broke my arm and I remember that clearly too even though I was under 3 YO) and also camping there with my parents and my best friend, Hildred, after all the other kids had left home, watching my dad rollerskate at the rollerskating rink at Birch Bay and riding a tandem bike with him there too - both the rink and the bike rental are only a memory now, traveling from Iowa to Washington following the Lewis and Clark Trail with my folks after my first year at college, and camping for a week with my parents at Silver Lake when my oldest was just 2 years old.

And so I have continued the tradition by camping with my family - Baker Lake is out favorite, Church Campouts, doing the Oregon Coast with my dear neices, Shelley and Leah, when my oldest three were so little, taking my nephew, James, up the Mount Baker Highway and camping with no outhouse or campsite - and floating down the river with him! Camping at Whidbey Island with another neice, Mandy and then taking her to Baker Lake and then to Eastern Washington too. Traveling to Mt Rushmore and back in 11 days, risking life and limb (long story - a book I'll have to write someday on how many things can go wrong in one vacation and still live to tell about it!), camping with Mandy again when she was married and had her first baby up at Baker Lake for nearly a week, and so forth.

So why am I waxing nastalgic? For many reasons, but mostly because life is brief, and memories of loved ones is so valuable.

This is a tribute to those I have loved, whose memory I cherish, and who have gone on before me.

James, my oldest nephew, who took his life 9 years ago this summer. This is the baby whose cloth diaper (pins and plastic pants!) was the first diaper I ever changed, who I remember as the boy who loved to spend time with me and ate too much Grape Nuts the first day camping with us, loved to play in the Nooksack River even though it was freezing cold. The young man who came to stay with us so he could show us his dear little daughter of whom he was so proud, who sat with me and my mom through several days when my father was near death's door, and the young man whom I will never forget as long as I live.

Leah, my sweet neice, who I got to see when she was just born, hold her and help her momma when she was so new, who I dressed up as a clown on her first Halloween, who slept with me on weekends when her father was living at home again, who begged me to adopt her and her sister, who I dressed and fixed hair to get ready for church, who was my "almost" flower girl in my wedding, who did the Oregon Trip with us and slept in the tiny bunk above our heads in a trailer that was supposed to sleep 5, but was accommodating 7 for over a week, who spent her spring break helping paint siding for our new house (and was mortified when she got paint in her hair), who came again on a spring break to go to a Michael W Smith contest and learned to play poker betting with cheetoes, who came to live with us when she had her first baby at the tender age of 16, who spent countless Thanksgivings putting up with our puppet shows and costumes, who went on to graduate from highschool and be a loving mother to her little Kayla. Leah was taken from us less than one year after the birth of her little boy by a drunk driver in April of 2002.

And my father. A man who found the time to take us away from the every day life and share with us his love of nature - fishing, camping, meadows, deer, streams, fresh mountain air, and sound naps in the hammock. And especially keeping it simple - army canvas tents, army cots, army sleeping bags (all from the surplus store in Seattle), bacon, eggs and pancakes for breakfast, fried trout that we caught that day for dinner, big campfires and roasting marshmellows. He could also tell stories that will live in infamy - police stories of walking the beat in China Town, or Seattle Center, of hunting trips, fishing trips, garage sale finds, and great deals on size 15 shoes.

So on the eve of another beautiful summer, I want to encourage you to get out of the house, take time with your family away from everyday cares - the telephone, the TV, the radio, and make some memories, because someday that may be all you have and then they will be cherished memories!

Have a great weekend - make a memory and tell me about it!


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