There’s just something about being on the road that makes me smile. It was that way when I was on a childhood vacation, and it still is. Today we are back on the road to do our Christmas concert series, and guess what? I’m smiling. Our last “pre-pandemic” Christmas held 17 events. Last year was just 7 (for which we are still VERY grateful). This year holds 9. At least we’re going the right direction.
I’m not smiling because everything is great, its actually been a really crazy Thanksgiving week for our family. This list I share is not meant to be a series of “whines”, especially since it affects others in our family a lot more than it does Shaunda and me. HOWEVER, I’ll vent anyway… a week before Thanksgiving held gall bladder surgery for our oldest daughter. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, a tonsillectomy for our oldest granddaughter. The day before Thanksgiving, how about elbow surgery for our 4 year old granddaughter courtesy of a preschool playground incident. Add to that a little extended family illness and things were more than a bit hectic. Good news though, between remote and local excursions we got a lot of grandkid time out of the deal! Especially Shaunda. The last two weekends held marathon Sunday night rehearsals preparing for our closing Christmas concert at Prairie Valley. I’ll be joining with all our musicians and “techies” along with a few other friends. As I drove to last night’s rehearsal I discovered a little extra energy by realizing that soon I would be “on the road”. And then a mile from the house (or RV in our case) I heard the unfortunately familiar “POP, whap whap whap” that signaled a blowout; on a fairly new set of tires. No worries, we have roadside assistance. This time however, Good Sam was not all that good. Five hours later (and after that last rehearsal) we gave up and my 83 year old Father in Law (or 84, or 87… it fluctuates with the weather and his need for attention) and I were changing a flat tire on my truck. I finally stumbled into bed rubbing rarely used muscles on the right side of my neck. So thus ends a very long week, and an even longer paragraph.
None of that really matters, after all, we’re on the road now, albeit several hours later than we anticipated. All of that is in the rear view, at least for now.
All participants in the “surgery triad” are doing well. And what teenager wouldn’t want mashed potatoes and popsicles for Thanksgiving? And with the white lines passing at a frantic pace (Shaunda is driving) I now remember how she put in countless hours this week as a concerned grandma, caregiver and extended family member even finding time somehow for a Sunday afternoon Anniversary party. She worked that one in between preparing Sunday lunch for our drummer and me, and then feeding everyone at our rehearsal last night. She had some help with that one from a great worship ministry friend who started the Lasagna while Shaunda was waiting with my truck for those first 2 of the 5 hours so I could make rehearsal in her’s.
’Tis true that I love to poke fun at my Father-in-law, and also ’tis tru that he does his share in return. He also does more than his share of helping out his kids…even though we’re all getting pretty old these days too! After all, what 83 year old guy gets down on the pavement to help change a flat tire? And my Mother-in-law’s help was invaluable over the past days as well!
No viewing the sunrise this morning even though we were heading east. Our unavoidable late start however, gave us yet another opportunity to say good-bye to those in-laws. We heartily laughed at the crazy week we had all just finished. With everyone on the mend we shared some kind words and some hugs. I think my Father-in law noticed I was rubbing my neck, so he squeezed extra hard. One final good-bye, a last wave, a parting chuckle and a “see you soon”, and we were finally heading down the road. I couldn’t help but think that if her folks passed away while we were gone or if this trip ended in a similar tragedy for us, that’s exactly how I would want our last goodbye to be. Laughter… no tears. And then unexpectedly I felt a little warmth on my cheek as a stray tear somehow escaped.
I have no idea how I will leave this world when it’s my final time to go “on the road” (or perhaps I should say “into the air”). Life has held some great moments for me. I have been blessed far greater than what I deserved that I never know quite how to express my gratitude. I have also learned that life often holds more difficult moments than great ones. Death, illness, financial reversal, wayward kids and wayward parents. There’s broken relationships, broken promises, bitter disappointments… flat tires and neck aches.
Maybe for me, it may be one final good-bye, a last wave, a parting chuckle and a “see you soon”. No tears. None of those heartaches will really matter then. They will all be in the rearview, and I will be in the bright “Sonshine”.
One last road trip.
Not north, south, west or east… just up.
Talk about something far, far greater than I deserve.