My parents loved to go for long drives. When my brother and I were too young to be left at home, we would accompany them on these drives. Generally my Dad would head towards the mountains and in the early 60’s that meant a full day on the road, there and back again, with a brief stop in Banff or Lake Louise for a picnic before heading back to Calgary. For my brother and I, confined in the back seat of a Volkswagen Beetle, without air conditioning, seatbelts, or car seats, we had no interest in the mountain views but occupied our time playing with the few toys our parents had allowed us to bring. When we tired of the toys, we generally curled up together and slept the rest of the way. Oftentimes we were still sound asleep when my parents stopped at a scenic location, so they let us snooze while they picnicked at a roadside turnout and we would be halfway home before we woke up cranky and miserable having missed out on the picnic, the only part of the trip we actually looked forward to.
We had just started on one such outing and my brother and I were already dreading the tedium of a long road trip. Luckily, my brother had managed to smuggle his pop gun into the car and for awhile I enjoyed watching him shoot at his little green, plastic soldiers that he lined up on the back seat. No longer satisfied with shooting the soldiers inside the car, he rolled down the window and began shooting at several imaginary bear and moose. That held his interest for a few more miles but then he decided a real target would be more satisfying. You would think his big sister would be the logical target, but that was not the case. Instead, over the next several miles he took great delight in “popping” our father in the back of his head! The little cork-on-a-string “bullet” didn’t hurt as much as distract my father from keeping his eye on the road and so after a few volleys from the back seat my brother was sternly warned that there would be consequences if Dad was “shot” again. Perhaps it was boredom, perhaps it was retaliation for subjecting us to long drives neither my brother and I enjoyed, or perhaps it was just childish mischievousness, but my brother got a wicked glint in his eye and re-corked his weapon. He pumped up the play rifle to maximum air capacity, a devilish smirk on his angelic face and took careful aim. POP! Straight into the back of my Dad’s head! Dad’s arm shot back with lightening speed and pin point accuracy swatting the offending weapon out of my brother’s hand and knocking him off his little keester in the process. I can’t remember the bottom-warming he got when we got home, but I’m sure that my brother must have thought it all a worthwhile consequence since our road trip was abruptly cut short due to his assassination attempt on the chauffeur.
Of course, when we became teenagers, there were holiday road trips through the mountains to British Columbia, and when we moved to Vancouver Island, the direction changed through the mountains to visit relatives in Calgary. By then, my brother and I had learned that surviving the drive meant for us to be plugged into our individual Walkmans with our cassette mix tapes, and hunkering down for the tedium of travel. We were neither interested in the mountainscapes, nor were we much interested in the occasional wildlife that we passed. The common phrase my parents heard from the two of us was: “Are we there yet?” Their response: “We’re not there yet, but getting close.”
My husband and I love to take a Sunday drive after church. Somehow, over the many years, I finally understand what my parents found so enjoyable about long, relaxing, picturesque drives. We are so blessed to be near enough to the Rockies, that we can take in the mountain sites, have a leisurely lunch, and enjoy the sunset drive home. Occasionally, we meet up with road construction, or traffic that irritates us, but for the most part our long drives are a time to reconnect with one another, enjoy the area we live, and build memories. Of course, when our three children were little, we hauled them all with us, and like my brother and I, they did not enjoy the ride very much. They were eager to get to the destinations because we made a point of doing something they would like before we had to get back in the car to return home. You might have guessed the common phrase my kids yelled at us from the back seat: “Are we there yet?” Our response: “No, but we’re getting close!”
It has been a challenging week for me dealing with a blood clot and pain of a different kind. At one point I said to my husband that I would just like to skip ahead to November, be done all this chemo, all this stuff, and bypass the next few months. Wishful thinking, I know, but his response was interesting, “What? Then you’d miss out on so much that will happen over the next few months.”
He didn’t mean all the chemo side effects or doctor appointments, he was talking about living every day, making memories, and appreciating all the scenic side roads on this long and winding highway that is my new journey with cancer. He understands the importance of the journey, whereas, this week especially, I’ve been focused solely on the destination. I want to scream out, “Are we there yet?” I want to be at the end, get to the destination and stay there. I’m focused on the finish, but he reminded me that there is validity in making the most of and enjoying the journey in spite of some speed bumps along the way. “You’re half way there come Monday,” he said. “Getting close to the end of chemo treatments. Stay strong. You’ll get there!”
It’s difficult, I will admit, when I’m in pain and definitely not looking forward to the third round of chemo on Monday, to enjoy the blessings around me. I have forced myself this most challenging week to spend as much time outside, on our back deck, drinking in the beauty of our view of the Rocky Mountains and praising God for His Creation. Sometimes I take it for granted. I have walked (limped) around my home, doing the Marie Kondo thing, thanking God for my house and all the things in it that bring me joy. Sometimes I take it all for granted. I have prayed for all those who have prayed and are still praying for me, including many of you blog readers. I have felt those prayers! I cannot take them for granted! I have hugged my grandchildren this week, and enjoyed the love and fellowship of family gathering in my home. Sometimes I forget how blessed I am to have all my children live only minutes away. I have thanked God for my husband, for the love and companionship we’ve shared for over forty years. Charles is my knight in shining armour! I have read a good book. I have laughed. I have tried to stay strong. I have tried to persevere, I have tried to be patient, I have tried to be grateful, I have tried to be less anxious. I have tried not to lean on my own understanding. It’s a daily walk.
I’m not there yet, but getting close!