In the middle of June when the summertime stretched in front of me and time, though not standing still exactly, at least seemed to pause, I was looking forward to a baseball game, a concert under the stars, an afternoon on the pontoon. Still no baseball game under my summertime belt, but I’ve not yet conceded the wish. Still no firm plans to head to Broadway, but hey! it could happen. I made my seasonal bucket list a few weeks ago with high hopes and good intentions. The straight path to a walk in the rain and a dance in the moonlight was blockaded by a bit of ‘road work ahead’ — nothing to do but detour. Here’s how it happened…
We (and by we I do mean the extended framily — you know, friends who are fam) rally the troops when someone needs help. We drop what we might have done for what needs to be accomplished. We help. We pitch in. Our aim? ‘Git r dun, y’all!’ (honestly, so glad that’s not my common vernacular.) So when one of the kids, not entirely ours but raised as if he were, and his wife bought their first house, and it needed some making over in addition to some moving in, as many of us who were available rushed to the scene. We tore down wall paper (EGAD!), ripped out carpet, removed a few cabinets, cursed the wallpaper, painted the plaster walls, refinished the hardwoods, hauled in the furniture, cursed the wallpaper once more — and somewhere in there, celebrated our Independence.
The excitement of first-time home ownership competed with our excitement over first time employment for son #3. He couldn’t stay close to home. Nope. In late June he went to an east coast interview, and don’t you know, they offered him the job we were praying they’d offer him! And I mean, we were praying. Earnestly. Repeatedly. (Maybe we thought that the Lord, omniscient and sovereign, forgot our pleadings, so we steadily, pleadingly reminded Him — silly us.) Of course we wanted our youngest to get the job he wanted. Of course we did! Even if it meant that he and his bride of eight months would be moving to the other side of the country. Even if.
We offered to help, if they needed us. They explored options. We turned out to be the most affordable. Maybe the most insistent. Our motto: “Have children. Will help.” That’s what we do. So that’s what we did. Yep. Uhaul trailer loaded to the tippy top, and truck bed loaded to the tipping point, off we went to the nation’s capital, where son #1 already resides, and where a rather well-known university now boasts a great addition to its Student Affairs staff. On the way we drove through the Alleghenies, straining the truck’s brakes and my ability to keep lunch in my tummy. Another whirlwind of unpacking, assembling new cabinets and shelves and even an IKEA couch (that store deserves a post all to itself) and a long drive back home again through the Alleghenies, which were far lovelier without hauling a Uhaul, but far lonelier without our kids in tow.
Time. Always so tricky. The start of summer hinted at long warm days filled with butterflies, water splashing the side of a boat, velvety evenings lit by the moon. Nothing but time on my hands. A finger’s snap and the dog days arrive. Soon, the leaves will fall and another year will wane. Raising kids goes by just that fast. One minute they’re toddlers, testing our patience and stealing our hearts. The next they’re in junior high, stealing our patience and testing their wings. And then, before we can even catch our breath, they’re flying to new places, new opportunities, new homes. Soaring above the winding roads that, please God, will always ‘lead [them] back to our door.’
Such a funny thing about detours — my summer fun list didn’t include wallpaper removal, lugging boxes or moving our youngest to DC — but I wouldn’t trade those unexpected turns in the road for anything. Family. It’s a road you wouldn’t have expected — sometimes a shady path, sometimes smooth pavement, sometimes an uphill climb, a hairpin curve, or a long, lonely stretch — but always, always worth the trip.