Are students asked to write that kind of paper anymore? Well, if they are then I volunteer to go back to 5th grade and write one for this summer. It has been a doozey! It has been filled to the brim with life lessons (med-flight helicopters), a beach wedding, great friends, sand fleas, a persistent head cold, laryngitis, monsoon rains, new tents and finally a broken toe. It has been a blast. And it all happened in a three week period of time. Living large, people, living large. And I am not talking about our weight.
Let’s start with the fact that my summer began with my two youngest graduating from the University of Arkansas on May 10th. That alone would have made for a great summer. But that was just the beginning.
JUNE 4 – My husband and I headed out to Carillon Beach, Florida. We were meeting up with our two recent college graduates to take a family vacation. (Our oldest son could not join us because he and his girlfriend had made plans to attend an Anime Convention in Dallas, TX. That is a whole other column.) Shortly into our trip we, like many others in recent history, found ourselves at a dead stop in the construction zone just east of Little Rock. We quickly became irritated; first at the situation and then at each other. After about 45 minutes of moving less than a mile, my husband commented that there was no traffic in the westbound lanes. I mean not a single car was to be seen. It dawned on us that whatever was holding us up was a big deal. As we inched our way along we began to notice three helicopters flying overhead. We at first assumed they were highway patrol or even news helicopters, but as we made our way further down the interstate it became apparent they were med-flight helicopters. Traffic came to a complete halt once again as one landed right on the interstate and loaded up a victim of a horrific accident. All of a sudden we weren’t quite so irritated with each other. Yes, our trip was now going to take about two hours longer than expected, but we were both alive and healthy, and so were our two boys following behind us. Life was good. It was very good. Prayers were said for those families whose lives had just changed, possibly forever, as we made our way to the beach. Perspective, people, perspective.
JUNE 5 – We arrived at Pinnacle Point to our fifth floor, three bedroom condo with a stunning view. There is just something about the beach that is good for your soul. And having two of my three boys there with me made it even better.
JUNE 8 – What a great day. We witnessed the wedding of Megan and Blake on Inlet Beach, Florida. What a joyous event. This was one of those weddings where most of the guest knew both the bride and the groom quite well, especially the young people who were there. I remember watching these 23 and 24-year-old young men and women celebrate with their newly married friends and thinking I knew most of them when they were in elementary school. I felt very old and very proud at the same time. Y’all, we have raised some kind, loving, fun and yes a little crazy group of young adults. I was filled with thanksgiving and prayers for their future. There was a big smile on my face all night. And it was nice to see that my boys can and will dance. With their father’s dancing abilities it was questionable.
JUNE 10 – Facebook can sure be a wonderful thing because while we were celebrating graduations and weddings we discovered, via Facebook, that one of my husband’s oldest and dearest friends was in the town just over from us – all of a 10 minute drive – celebrating his 29th wedding anniversary. My husband was in his wedding and he was in ours. What a joy it was for us to be able to have lunch and dinner with them. We had not been together in three years. One of our sons tagged along and heard way too many stories about his daddy’s “carefree” days. What was most precious was when this dear man looked my son in the face and said, “Your dad and I had some really crazy times, but the most important thing that ever happened to all of us was when we became followers of Jesus Christ. That has created this bond between us that can never be broken.” Can I get an Amen?
Continued on page 31…
…continued from page 12 JUNE 12 – It was time to head back to Arkansas and this was probably a good thing because I had developed a severe head cold and was beginning to lose my voice. I had way too many late nights with my children and sweet friends and way too much fun. I also had my first itch of what was soon to be “crazy town scratching”. Folks, I grew up in Florida and I had heard of sand fleas, but never experienced them for myself, until now. It started as one very acute itch, and by the time we got to the state of Arkansas 57 bites had shown up on my feet and lower legs. I was like a mad woman with the scratching. I tried every home remedy (except Windex – my husband has seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding one too many times) we could think of. Fortunately, I had a dermatology appointment the week we got home and got a steroid cream to help with the itching.
June 20 – You can’t keep a good women down so on this date with laryngitis at full tilt, and sores all over my legs and feet from sand fleas, I am off to spend a little over a week camping in a tent. Yes, I did say tent. But please know I have been a tent camper for 23 years now and we know how to do it right. We have air-conditioning in our tent. Yes, again, I did say air-conditioning in our tent.
JUNE 23 – Rain is an understatement. It poured. Our tent’s rain-fly was just not going to have it and almost caved in my tent. Oh, and let me mention at this point my husband had returned to work for a few days and left me alone to hold down the fort (tent). Fortunately, we had some good friends at the campsite and they saved the tent. Kind of. One of our friends ripped a hole in the tent in the attempt to save it. Now, most people would have been sad, but a huge grin broke out on my face. You see, I didn’t like this tent and I wanted a new one. We had only camped in the tent I disliked one other time so my husband wouldn’t let me get a new one yet. I had begged but he actually told me, “No”. Can you believe he told me no? Me either. I thought this is it; I will get my new tent now. Later that night I returned to my tent to babysit it through the next rain storm and found that the same friend had sewn up the hole so well that you couldn’t even tell it had ever been ripped. My friends are too good. I may need to find some less responsible friends.
JUNE 26 – My husband returned to check out the scene of the crime (monsoon rains) and got the run down on the tent mishap. When I mentioned that the tent I loved (which he said I could not have) was being discontinued he appeared to have a look of consideration on his face. YES! We were off to Dick’s in Hot Springs and Hallelujah they had only one of “my” tents still in stock. I got my new tent! Now let’s hope it holds up to the monsoons better than the last one.
JUNE 27 – By now my laryngitis had all but disappeared. The sand flea bites rarely bothered me at all. I had my new coveted tent. Life was good. Well, it really always was and I had been having a blast in spite of the mishaps. But today was going to put all of that to the test. This evening a large group of our camping buddies were all sitting around visiting. We are really good at this activity. But suddenly we hear what at first sounds like fireworks, followed by a distinct snap. In a split second it dawns on me something is falling very near all of us. It is dark and we are sitting under a canopy so we have no visual of what is coming our way. Some sit still, some duck and cover their heads, two of us make a run for it. I was one of the runners; I am using that term loosely. I took about three steps and got all tangled up in a chair and a friend. My body went forward, but my toe stayed put. As I ended up on the ground I could see that the large tree branch had crashed into the canopy above our heads. It was now all tangled up around one of our friends and she was not moving or speaking. It was less than a minute before we knew she was not seriously injured, but that was one of the longest minutes of our lives. From what others tell me, I kept saying over and over again very quickly, “I broke my toe, but I’m OK. How’s Karla?” Several said they questioned how I could know my toe was broken, but all you had to do was look at it. It was not where it was supposed to be. I also learned reason #67 that you should lose weight: so your husband might be able to carry you back to your tent. That was a rough night to be in a tent, but by the next day I had figured out a way to walk – not very gracefully, but still it was walking.
JUNE 29 – Time to reenter the real world. The vacations were over. But I still have some souvenirs: sand fleas bite scars, a broken toe still trying to heal, and a smile on my face from all the sweet memories.
Life is messy, but it is so good when you get to do it with the people you love. Grateful, so very grateful.l