By RHONDA SCHROCK
In the seasons of life, there are, one finds, changes that come so gradually, they are scarcely noticed. Quietly, one chapter closes, and a new one begins. Life changed somewhere between planning the evening meal and getting the kids to school, and you missed it. At other times, the change is so big that you know it right away. And that’s what we felt on our recent vacation.
When College Grad decided not to go, we understood it. He was now in the work force, and school loans were due. While we supported his decision, we knew we’d miss him terribly. After all, on the last trip, the head count had been six. The thought of returning with only five was tough, and so we were thrilled when Inspector Gadget’s friend hopped along, holding the head count at six.
There is something about mountain panoramas that’s deep medicine for weary souls. Especially if the mountains are far away from where you work and clean your house and keep a schedule. Far away, in other words, from your normal, workaday life.
Driving through the Ozarks where the clouds hang low at the edge of the road, cares left behind at your old address, it comes. Peace, stealing soft into heart and mind. Peace, and simple happiness. For these seven days, it’s you, this lavish beauty and those you love best in all the world, all of you together in your flip-flops.
When one vacations with boys, one finds that she must accept a certain, well, kind of vacationing. Embracing this from the outset will help that one to settle in and have a good time. Which is what this “one” chose to do.
For our crowd, I knew it meant go-carts. Amusement parks, two days and a water park for one. It meant mini golf and IMAX, shows and swimming, all of that and a play. In other words, it meant nonstop action.
What I should’ve known, but apparently missed, was to keep the crowd with me. Imagine my surprise when the four of them bought six water guns while my back was turned, promptly turning the swimming pool into a war zone and sparking a pool-wide water fight. As a girl, this was not on my list of Fun Stuff to Do On Vacation. Sighing, I moved it onto the Just Go With It list and went with it.
I went with it, too, when the boys wheedled me onto the biggest, baddest roller coaster at Silver Dollar City. Let me say that I now know just how fast a person can draft a last will and testament. In the split second it takes to realize that your feet are tangled in clouds and your hair is pointing down at the ground, that’s how quick you can write it. This, I found, was my version of LegalZoom, discovered in a “why, God” moment on the Outlaw Run.
Meanwhile, Mr. Schrock was doing nothing of the sort. There he was, following his personal conviction that one’s flip-flops should never leave the ground. Ever. That, and keeping his pop cold. Smart fellow, that one.
It was later that day that I heard it. Little Schrock, who up to now had been content to cruise the children’s rides, took his very first spin on a real coaster, tucked in next to a brother. He dismounted, beaming teeth in a mega-watt display. “That was awesome!” he enthused. And then, with a disdainful wave of one hand, dropped this, “Roller coaster in the kiddie section? Booorrrring!”
I looked at his dad. He looked at me. Somberly, we shook our heads. And the page, it turned, and turned again.
If Little’s big discovery was the thrill of coaster rides, then Mama’s big one was the river. The Lazy River.
In the heat and grind of daily life, moments of pure, unbridled happiness are rare. Floating along on a great, green inner tube, I felt it — happiness, elusive as a butterfly, transient as a moonbeam. Looking over, I saw that The Guppy felt it, too. Hands behind his head, small legs crossed with his bottom in the water, he bobbed along. Sheer contentment, peace and, yes, happiness, rested on his face. There on the Lazy River.
In thinking over our week of vacation, there a couple of things that strike me. What made it so special was not simply the fun, new things we did, but that we did them all together. For one entire week, it was us, away, together, having fun. And it was good.
Secondly, I’m realizing that sometimes a Lazy River is exactly what you need. That everyone should have such a day, a time to drop your cares on the banks, to lie with your hands behind your head, legs all crossed in front, and to float with your bottom in the water, happy. Just happy.
I hope your summer, like mine, has been great. I hope you’re feeling refreshed. I hope you find your own Lazy River and the happiness that’s there.