Today there were several little and big moments in which I know they were walking along side my siblings and I.
Growing up both my parents worked, but despite working all week long our weekends were full of adventures. We snow skied in the winters. We went camping and boating in the summers. Now that I’m older I can appreciate how much effort and energy it must have taken. I recognized this even more as I watched my sister and brother in law pack up the car with their kiddos, the cooler, the life jackets, the diaper bag and then hitch the same boat you see in this picture to the back of their car.
As we exited their neighborhood and drove down a steep hill we went over a small speed bump. We suddenly heard a large crash and terrible scraping sound. The speed bump had dislodged the boat off of the hitch. We were on a steep hill with no shoulder, but we had to stop. The only thing preventing the boat from rolling down the hill ahead of us was the back of our car bumper and a chain. We were sooo lucky as this could have turned out very, very bad. After about 30 minutes of diverting traffic and jimmying the boat, we were able to get the boat hooked back up and be on our way.
We arrived at the boat launch, and waited in line for our turn. Birdy launched the boat and Kimmy turned the key only to find the battery was dead. Imagine having four cars waiting their turn to pull into your parking spot at Trader Joes or Costco and your battery won’t start. Not only that, you are blocking traffic the entire time. I was entertaining the kids and pretending I didn’t know them, but it seemed pretty stressful.
It felt like today just wasn’t meant to happen, until a wonderful gentleman ran over and said we could have his battery. He wouldn’t accept payment, wouldn’t give us his number, but only told us to have a blessed day and pay it forward.
Throughout the day, as we jumped off the side of the boat to swim, Avery practiced somersaults and Blake giggled as he splashed around in the water, I thought of my parents. I saw my parents when I watched Blake and Avery blissed out and sunkissed in the back of the boat. I saw my mom in Kimmy as she was distracted by the thought of her lost sunglasses and her determination to find them. Only difference between Kimmy and my mom, is my mom would have been way less cool about the events of the day, and had three extra pairs of sunglasses in the boat, just in case.
I know it was because of my parents we were out on the water having a blessed day.
I still remember Jeff’s very first triathlon. It was in California and was half of these distances. It also happened to be the weekend he was graduating college. My parents were beside themselves, as they had no idea why anyone would want to do this, let alone the weekend you have a zillion other things happening. I don’t remember the race in particular. However, I do remember how angry my mom was at Jeff because he got bike grease on the inside of our motorhome on the way to the race. I was ten years old and I can still remember Diana’s fury.
My parents knew nothing of the sport, couldn’t understand why anyone would want to put their body through this, and yet they continued to cheer and support Jeff in his races over the years. When Jeff qualified and competed in the Kona World Championship, my parents were there. My mom loved biking down to Dig Me Beach just so she could swim with all the triathletes. My dad didn’t swim, bike or run. Rather he let us laugh at him when he spilled brownies and frosting all down the front of his shirt at the athlete banquet. I can still picture turning around seeing him walk next to all these fit athletes with a brownie stain the size of an apple on the front of his yellow polo shirt. He also enjoyed embarrassing us all as he yelled “No Drafting” over and over again at a congested transition. Drafting is when a biker will ride right behind another biker to save energy. It’s illegal in the sport, but in this particular area it was unavoidable as the athletes were just mounting their bikes and had no choice. My sister and I yelled at him….”Dad….stop!!”
Jeff not only competed in his 22nd Ironman today, he WON first place in his age group. Some people will take 17 hours to finish, some won’t finish at all, but most of us never will attempt such a thing. He finished in first place. He was in 12th place exiting the swim, and through pure grit and determination took 1st place within one mile of the finish line.
I know my parents were with Jeff cheering him on.
I know they were with us on the water.
I know we do what we do, and have what we have because of them.
Blessed day. Blessed life. Blessed family. Always present.