Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Best Things in Life Aren't Things

      Does every family have their favorite stories you tell over and over? I know ours does. One of my best tales of a narrow escape was when I drove Sydney, and her new little boyfriend Justin, to their first MORP dance freshman year. I took them shopping for matching outfits earlier in the week, they went to dinner, and were so anxious to go to their first school dance here in Phoenix. Sydney and I were staying with Marcy, because Sydney had only been in school here a month or so. Marcy let me drive them to the dance in her beautiful, green, Park Avenue car with all the bells and whistles. It was out at Falcon Field here in Phoenix, which is an aviation site with lots of different airplanes for pictures and big enough for a dance.

     Driving there, I was thinking they were so cute dressed their new black shirts and khaki pants.  I was in the moment, so happy Sydney was making friends here, and Justin seemed like a sweet kid.

Sydney and Justin Going to MORP

      I can’t see very well in the dark and that old age sign has been going since I was young. Pulling into the dance I could see a lot of kids up by the lighted doorways, standing around in their little clicks. Mentally I planned to make the drop off in the circular drive that was coming up. I made the turn, and all of a sudden we were all pointed almost straight down, staring into a huge hole with water at the bottom! I’d turned into a huge ditch! Throwing the car into reverse, I tried to back up, but it was to steep with nothing but grass for traction, so I just spun! Justin, embarrassed by the grand entry I’d provided, decided to bale out! Sydney too slid out after him on the passenger side, running up towards the door of that dance, while answering questions and fielding jokes about who’s the drunk that is dropping them off? Having not even shut the car door when they hopped out, they’d left me with the interior lights on in the car, showing me off in all my splendor! Thankfully, some young boys came and Justin too after I got mad at him, and pushed me back up the steep grade, and I drove home with my foot shaking on the accelerator like Thumper the rabbit! I was so thankful I hadn’t messed up Marcy’s car! All I could think of was that water below me! We still laugh about that one!

      Another family story is when Mom had fairly advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Marcy was back in Minot visiting us, and staying with Mom. I picked them up and we went to Wal-Mart, parking by the garden entry because Mom wasn’t walking much without help and we only had two quick things to get. She just wanted to stay in the car. The weather was nice so I assured Mom I’d be right back, locked the doors so she couldn’t get out, and no one could get in and ran in to grab what we needed. Marcy wanted to copy some pictures she’d taken, at the machine at the front of the store, by the other entrance. I got what I came to do, and went back to the car. Mom was sitting quietly watching the people go in and out, happy to be out for a little while. I decided to drive the car up to the other entrance, where Marcy was working on pictures. After sitting there a few minutes, I decided maybe I better go tell Marcy where I was parked now that I’d moved the car because it wasn’t very visible.

      When I came in Wal-Mart, Marcy was having trouble with the picture machine, so I took over because I’d used it many times before. Already exasperated with the machine, she said, “Oh darn it, now I forgot to bring the coupon in, I'll have to run back to the car”! I kept working on the pictures, and all of a sudden both at the same time, I heard Marcy’s voice and heard her feet on the big mat in front of the door. I turned to see her fear filled face yelling out, “Mom took the car, or somebody took her”! “The car’s gone, I searched the whole parking lot”! I had the keys, and it dawned on me I had never told Marcy yet that I moved the car, as I’d gotten distracted by the picture malfunctions.

Mom, Marcy, Kathy and Me

      I have never seen Marcy so scared and I hope I never do again! People in Wal-Mart were wondering what the commotion was about! All I could do was break out in my wild hyena laugh, that goes on forever! Marcy wasn’t impressed, and less impressed the more I laughed; she didn’t find it nearly as funny as I did, for some reason! She’d been all over the parking lot, except for the side of the building where I’d parked! I laughed my way to the car, and Marcy was a little less mad by the time we got there. I told Mom my funniest story in the world. Talking a lot or not, she never cracked a smile, and managed to scolded me, “You shouldn’t be laughing, she could have had a heart attack”! I still laugh writing this.

     Another time I was in Miracle Mart in Minot. I came out with my cart full of groceries. As I approached my car, key in hand, I noticed someone had plastered a bumper sticker about loving Christ with a fish on my bumper. It was metal and I love Christ as much as the next person but I don’t like any bumper stickers! I stood there trying to peel it off, but it was on there to stay! The adhesive was just not budging and I was fuming to myself, I could not believe the gall of some Jesus freak that slapped that on my car, with glue like this! About that time I looked up and to see an orange pillow in the back window, and realized it was not MY CAR! My own car was two cars up! You have never seen such a grocery unloading machine in your life as I was to get out of there, before these people came out and saw their metal sticker bent up on one end!

     My last little family story is our all time favorite! Kerry and I and Kelly and Lori  (Kerry’s sister and her husband) left our kids with the Grandma’s and were going fishing/camping which didn’t happen very often that we ever left the kids behind. Kerry always wanted to fish with a boat and we never had one, so I asked my uncle Lawrence if we could borrow their boat for the weekend. He was so nice, and said yes. When we picked it up Greg mentioned they it had a fairly big motor on it for water sports. I said to Kerry on the way, "are you sure you know how to run a boat”? He came back with, “ How hard is it to run a boat'?  "You push the lever forward to go, and back to stop”! I trusted him...why not he’s very mechanical.

     Finally at the river, camping spot picked out, Lori and Kelly set up their tent trailer and we set up our lawn chairs beside our school bus camper. Yay, now its time for a little boat ride. All four of us were/are overweight. We climbed into the boat with our life jackets on, and readied ourselves for a fun ride. I said, to Lori, “Look at all the birds circling, that’s not a good sign”, and we laughed.

Kelly, Lori, Shelbey, Kerry and Brendon

     Kerry turns the key up front. Urr, Urr, Urr….a drunk older gentleman yells from the shore, “you got your battery hooked up”? Kerry turns, and passes the message and the buck to Kelly, who hurries and hooks it up. Kerry turns the key again, Urr. Urr. Urr. The drunk old man hollers, this time a little more annoyed sounding, “you got the fuel line hooked up”? Again, Kerry looks at Kelly and Kelly hooks that up. By now I’m losing faith in Kerry and thinking this could be like a Gilligan’s Island rerun with him as the skipper. Finally the motor starts.

     He engages the lever forward and we are barely idling along like a purring kitten. With all four of us fatties in a boat with no speed it was pointing up! All we can see is sky! Hopefully the guy on shore was drunk enough not to remember this sight tomorrow! Kerry, looks back at the three of us, all serious and sitting there like stuffed sausages in our lifejackets. He says, “ Jesus, and they say they ski with this thing”? Lori and I were wishing we’d stayed ashore, we had kids to think about!

     Finally, we get upright and can look out over the water. Still not much speed, but enough to get us way out in the water and have Kerry hang us up on a sand bar! Kerry says, “you guys ( I think he called us fatties, I’m not sure, like Kevin James says, ) are gonna all have to get out there on the hood while I push us off with this oar”. By now Lori and I are praying to get back to shore! Once he gets us pushed off, I angrily snarled, “take us back to shore until you figure out what your doing, I knew you didn't know how to run a boat”! He insisted, he knew what he was doing - there was something wrong with the boat!

     We happily got out walked to the camper and plunked our grateful behinds in lawn chairs. The old drunk guy came over to inquire about what’s going on. I relay there is “something wrong with the boat”! He says, in his best old timer voice, “I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, is the dumb son of a bitch that’s trying to run it’! With that, he briskly heads down to the lake where Kerry and Kelly are still messing around looking for the hidden problem. We curiously watch as the guy climbs in and Kerry moves over. Kelly is still back by the motor. The guy throws the lever into reverse and they roar backwards taking in some water. Then they fly forward skipping accross the water,  cruising probably 60 mph around the river in the distance. Lori and I are apprehensively watching, we knew the guy was drunk, and irratated as we were, still preferred to go home mad wives, rather than widows.

     They roared back to shore and the guys come up to us at the camper, with their own tale of how the old drunk with all the know how, plowed through the water so fast on take off that water came into the boat! Unaffected, the old guy told Kelly, "pull the plug"! Kellys eyes got big as saucers wondering if he should or not, but he pulled the plug in the bottom of the boat,  and the water was sucked right out! The drunk showed Kerry there was a high and low speed, that he didn't know about. Lori and I ventured back out with Kerry at the helm the next day and it was a fun day! We forever tell our "boat story".

      I’ve been thinking we need more of these stories, more silly mistakes, more crazy experiences that make our lives sparkle with fun and excitement! Those aren’t going to just happen, we have to make them happen! I want more experiences than material things for my family, and that is at the top of my agenda for this part of our lives. I read one time where if you really want to make a memory, you need to push yourself past what you would normally do, and out of your comfort zone. That’s why when the kids and I went to San Diego we went on the Segway Tour. If you haven’t done that, do, it was so much fun! They have them in most major cities!

     Thank God, for all of our days! The great ones with great stories to tell, the sad ones we have grown from, and the majority that are just nothing real good or real bad, but stabilizing and satisfying. Check out the song link below, its one of my favorites! Seize the day! God is good!



  1. Luv Luv Luv'd it, was so hillarious, it made my night of chuckles last longer!!!!!!!! Good endorphine raiser.

  2. Thank you Pam! I so appreciate that!