My parents actually turned out to be much different people than I ever knew growing up. The parents I knew growing up were constantly — and I mean constantly — working. They had eight children together, and with that many kids I suppose it’s difficult to get any free time. My dad was a chef and my mom stayed home to take care of us all. When dad wasn’t at work, he was gardening or taking care of his animals. I’m not referring to us kids….he actually had a few farm animals. When mom wasn’t busy raising us to eventually be competent adults, she was cooking. You’ll remember from my first writing post (click here to view) that she never served us “store-bought” food, so that required a lot of effort in the kitchen.
But now? Now that we’re all grown and out of the house on our own (she must have succeeded at making us competent adults — thanks, Mum), they’ve started showing who they really are. And I have to admit, they’re kind of way cooler and 100x more adventurous and spontaneous than all of their kids put together.
Today’s writing prompt —
Share a time one or both of your parents proved to be cooler than you.
I got a call one day a couple weeks before Thanksgiving 2017 that my dad had been let go from his job of 40+ years. It wasn’t something he’d done…management had been changing over the years and sometimes with that comes change to who they want on the job. It was still a shock though. I asked what he was going to do.
“Well….I think we’re finally going to take that bike trip we’ve been dreaming about for years.”
Let me back up. My mom had been dreaming about going on a bike (read bicycle) trip across the U.S. for quite a few years, but it was always one of those “yeah, but is that really all that realistic?” kind of dreams, even to her. She managed to warm my dad up to the idea, though they both thought of themselves as out of shape. And, well, they weren’t wrong either. They did bike often, but only ever small trips, like on a bike trail or to the grocery store. But apparently when you’re laid off from your job unexpectedly and almost all your children are grown (there was still one of us living at home), it actually can become realistic, no matter what shape you’re in.
The amount of time from when I heard about the lay-off to their actually leaving was about two weeks. No more than a blink of an eye when you don’t really expect it to happen….when you’ve been hearing about it for years and it sounded like a pipe dream. Also when you’re expecting to have a normal Thanksgiving get-together with your parents and all of a sudden you and your siblings feel like orphans. It was just POOF. And they were gone.
It took them from November to April to complete the trip. They carried everything they needed on their bikes in these “camel” bags that hung on each side of their bikes — tent, sleeping bags, and all. They didn’t always sleep out in the tent. Sometimes they found motels, sometimes fire stations, the occasional church, even a Buddhist monastery once. My favorite stories were from the times they’d sleep out in their tent though (sometimes even in freezing weather) with wild animals that would approach but never bother them. They always had something new to tell us during phone calls.
There was one night that reached below freezing while they were camping out in an Indian Reservation. All their gear was wet by morning and they had 26 miles before getting to the next town available for them to sleep in. Normally 26 miles would be okay for them, but they were in the mountains at the time and a lot of the road was up hill, forcing them to walk much of it.
My mom wrote: “By noon time we had only covered ten miles. We had a slight down grade, then ahead of us another mountain to climb, then another 16 or so miles beyond that to get to our next town where we had hoped to sleep. We were afraid to spend a second night in our wet tent and sleeping bags at an even higher elevation, which meant colder temperatures. With exhaustion weighing our body and minds down and with desperation guiding my senses, I saw a sign for a towing service posted on the side of a building which seemed about the only business among the five or so scattered houses nested together in this little valley. As I lifted my eyes to the next mountain looming before us that we were about to trudge up, I tentatively asked [my dad] what he thought of calling the towing business for a lift to our next destination instead of biking to it. He readily agreed, not wanting to take the chance of possibly sleeping out on the ground in wet things. After a short wait, the tow truck pulled up to the side of the road just ahead of us. He lowered the back end of his flat bed, we pushed our bikes up the steep embankment of the bed where the bicycles were laid on their sides and chained down to the truck. It was a very sorry yet comical sight to behold.”
They had to pay $210 for that little tow. I have to admit, I laughed pretty hard after reading this. I know they were actually really discouraged at this point in the trip, wondering if they had what it took to finish. But now that it’s all in the past it’s a pretty funny story.
I was there when they finished this grand trip. It was very moving actually. My mom’s sister, brother, and their spouses flew down to Florida to make a finish line for my parents to cross right up close to the beach they had chosen to finish at. They started this trip at a beach on the Pacific ocean and finished at a beach on the Atlantic. I decided to tag along with my aunts and uncles as a surprise to my parents. I didn’t want to miss it for the world.
Don’t they sound pretty cool? I think so. Don’t tell them I said that.
My story might be a little over the top for the prompt I picked, but since my mom told me that story about the tow truck a few days ago, I was struck with a desire to share it here too. I know a lot of our parents have proven to be cooler than us. How have either or both of your parents shown this? Share your story on your own blog and post a link to it here!
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