Life is full of opportunities to smile.
Growing up my dad had to supervise airshows all around the region. We went with him for some of them, usually the ‘less painful’ ones. Little known fact: if it is 70 degrees in the air, it’s at least 95 out on the tarmac. You do the math for those 105 degree days in Yakima. Safe to say it was hot, very hot. I only went to Yakima once. Some of the shows were more exciting than others. Tri-cities combined an airshow with hydroplane races so that was always a favorite for my brother and I. Plus, you sit on the banks of the river to watch which means if it gets insanely hot, you can run down and dip in to cool off. For this reason, it moved up in favorite status. My mom doesn’t tolerate heat well. It’s not her as much as her body saying ‘nope’. Having the water close by made it so that she didn’t pass out which is a fantastic bonus. While traveling with her in Israel for instance, any time we saw a group of people standing around in circle looking at something on the ground, we knew it was mom.
One year we were watching the hydroplane races and all the big names were there. Oberta, Pennzoil, and the ever-popular Budweiser. The races go pretty much all day and the day was almost over. The airshow was over so my dad was done working and was with us. Now, if you know my dad personally you know how efficient he is. I’ve mentioned on the blog before about his award-winning lectures, but he is also very efficient. I can’t tell you how many hockey games I heard the phrase ‘we have to beat the crowd out of the parking lot’. It’s all about beating the crowd to get on the road. As I was saying the day was almost over. With just a few races left my dad proclaimed it was time to get on the road to beat the crowd. My brother protested that if we left, we would miss something awesome. He lost the debate and to the car we went. Let’s be honest (that was for you D), In Nascar, if you watch, you are mostly watching for crashes. In Rodeo you are watching for someone to get bucked and hung up. Hydroplane is no different in that you watch for the boats to flip. It’s just a fact.
We were listening to the final races on the radio as we were leaving town. We stopped to fuel up and while my dad was inside paying we heard it. Words that would stick with me forever. Words that would enrage my brother. “THE BUD FLIPPED”. My poor dad didn’t know the war zone he was going into as he got back in the car. Yelling, fighting, maybe crying (I don’t know, it is all very blurry in my mind). Either way, this became a well known phrase in my house from this day forward. You never leave early because the Bud always flips.
Fast forward to eight years ago in Kauai standing out on a point by a lighthouse. My brother, his girlfriend (now wife) Ashley, and I stood along the railing looking for whales. Some people next to us had just seen a whale breach. I got bored (shocking) and turned to walk back to the lighthouse. My brother turned to walk away and noticed Ashley wasn’t following along. When he asked her what she was doing, she quietly replied without turning her head away from the ocean, “the bud always flips.” That was a defining moment of ok, she totally gets this family. I’m sure there were hundreds of other moments, but that for me is one of my favorites.
As we were packing up our things yesterday in the hotel in Seattle, I mentioned that my mom had stayed at our house to keep all the animals alive, but that my dad didn’t stay with her. Without any hesitation Tom said, “Did he have to stay home in case it snowed so he could clear the driveway? It’s not Thursday so he doesn’t have to mow.” My dad is a man of routine, to the craziest degree. Everyone who knows him or our family knows that Thursday is the day he mows the lawn. When the weather doesn’t cooperate with his Thursday lawn mowing, his whole week is thrown off. It’s one of our favorite things to tease him about and Thursday has been lawn day since as long as I can remember. He also doesn’t travel in the winter due to concern that it may snow and pile up in the driveway. When we’ve proposed the idea that someone else could snowblow or shovel the driveway for him, he presents the concern that they wouldn’t do it right. Obviously. Even though Tom has fit in since the day I brought him home to meet my parents, this was still one of those defining moments of yep, he gets it.
During our drive home yesterday I was asking Tom what he thought that moment was for me entering his family. I had come up with a few ideas and I knew my ‘smart assery’ had made his dad confident that I fit it, but I think Tom came up with the true answer. The first Christmas after we got married all the stars aligned and magically we both had a few days off Christmas and after. This is not common in the law enforcement world. In my job, no one is even allowed to ask for the day off. It’s kind of luck of the draw and when you bid, if you care about that you obviously look for which shifts have that day off, although they are usually taken. In fact I think I had worked the previous 4 or 5 Christmases. Anyways, it worked out that we would have enough time to drive home to Tom’s family ranch and spend Christmas with them. I was excited to see how they celebrate. I had been warned previously of his mom’s candy throwing tradition. She has quite the arm. I guarantee that as she reads this she will be laughing remembering my half bent over duck walk trying to avoid being pelted by Rolo bullets.
We have a bit of a football rivalry between his family and I. I’m a big Boise State fan and they are diehard Oregon Duck fans. This makes for fun times. I wanted to make sure that I left a little bit of Boise there while we were there for Christmas so I brought a Boise State snowman ornament. I did my best to wait until they were out of the room and hide it towards the back of the tree. My hope was that it wasn’t be found until after I was gone because I feared his mom would make me sleep in the barn. It was found before that and dressed up as a hideous duck. I think that was considered to be a fairly gutsy move and his mom appreciated that. I must point out that this Christmas again he was put up on the tree and dressed in duck gear. I know because I was sent a picture. I kindly offered to file a police report for them as someone had obviously vandalized their tree. I am confident that it will always be a part of the tree decorations and that makes me happy.
Life is full of little moments to provide us with laughter and smiles, even in the midst of boring activities like packing up dirty clothes. Go out of your way today to look for those little reminders of times past and those moments. You may have to access your memory bank, but it’s worth it for adding a little happy to your day.