Today turned out to be a much better day than I thought it would. Being my only weekend day off of work, I knew, going in to today, that we had a family birthday party to go to as well as some needed work to be done on the upstairs renovation project on our home. It didn’t seem like a whole lot of fun to me. The birthday party wasn’t supposed to start until 2pm, so we had some time in the day before we had to leave to rip down the old, brittle ceiling insulation in our upstairs bungalow room, lug about 10 large contractor bags of ceiling tiles downstairs and outside, pull out the old electrical in the room, and start ripping out the tongue and groove knotty pine on the walls. It was exhausting, but we got a lot done today. Here’s a photo of my wife and I mid project.
After some showers to get the fiberglass dust off of us, and getting the kids ready, we hit the road to the family cottages on Bald Eagle Lake in Ortonville, Michigan for the birthday party. The weather was supposed to be cloudy all day, so we didn’t even think about bringing our swim suits, except for Abby’s (our 6 year old), of course. By the time we go there, the clouds started to clear up, and it turned out to be hot and gorgeous. The kids were playing in the lake, the adults were shoveling down fried chicken, meatballs, fruit salad, macaroni, jello, and salad, while the sun beat down on us.
After the amazing food was devoured, a few of the kids begged us to take them tubing on the lake. Well, how could Bill, my father-in-law, and I turn down a breezy, relaxing boat ride, while we pulled a large tube behind the boat holding the kids? It was settled. Once we began loading up in the boat and getting the rope and tube tied on, I heard a faint, yet familiar voice behind me say “I want to go tubing”. It was my 6 year old daughter, Abby. Now, keep in mind that she had never been tubing before. She usually sat in the boat with me and watched the bigger kids on the tube. I wasn’t really surprised to hear her say that though, as I was a thrill seeker at a young age myself. I remembered begging to go tubing every time we went up to my grandfather’s house on Hubbard Lake when I was a lad, and my dad had a tough time getting me off the lake.
It was Abby’s first time tubing, and she had a blast! I don’t think there was a moment that I couldn’t see the whites of her teeth glaring the entire time she was out there. By the time we were finished whipping her around the lake, she was exhausted, but gave me a high five, and wouldn’t stop gleaming and bragging about how much fun she had. She crowed about how she had to hold on to the handles so tight when the big waves almost bounced her out of her seat in the tube, and about how she almost flew out and into the water, but she held her own and was able to stay on the tube. Proud dad moment right here.
Afterward, we pulled the boat back in to the dock, and were about to tie her up when Tommy, my wife’s second cousin, and his fiancé, Sharlette walked up and asked if we could pull them on the tube. You should have seen the sinister grin slowly develop on Bill’s face. “Sure!” he exclaimed. “Grab your life jackets and hop in!” Tommy and Sharlette are around our age (adults, grown folks, at that age where our bones and muscles start to get sore after walking down a flight of stairs), and I was thrilled to the core that they wanted to go tubing. I mean, I haven’t been tubing in over 20 years myself, at least on that end of the rope. This was going to be awesome!
I sat in the back of the boat watching a middle-aged couple, like myself, get whipped around the back of the vessel, over the wake, bounding over the waves, and loving every minute it while I kept saying to myself how much I wish that was me and Jackie (my wife) out there. However, I would have a tough time talking her into it. I was so happy that a couple our age actually did it, as this was going to provide me the ammunition I needed to try and talk her into it.
When we got back into the dock this time, my wife, who was taking great care of our ten month old, Allie, walked up to us and could see the smiles on Tommy and Sharlette’s faces, and before I could say a word, Tommy yells out “Jackie, are you and Bob next?” My face lit up and I could see the gears working in her head, trying to process the notion. “Maybe next time,” she said. She saw my glaring smile drop on the edges and my head lower as I stood up and stepped onto the dock to tie up. We walked over to the rest of the family and sat down, and everyone was asking the couple about their experience. They were boasting about how exhilarating it was, and again, Tommy asked Jackie if she was ready yet. My wife looked over at me, and all I had to do was turn up my puppy dog eyes and pouty face. “Fine,” she said. I was absolutely floored and leaped from my seat, knocking it backwards on the ground, grabbed her hand and starting bolting toward the dock.
Now, if you know me, I am usually the one always out for adventure, excitement, and thrills. My wife is the cautious, practical, responsible one. I usually have to drag her to do exciting, daring things (not really, as I am embellishing just a bit). This one was easy, even though she at first had the excuse that we didn’t bring our swim suits. We had the time of our lives for that 30 minutes on the lake with absolutely no control, just holding on to those handles and each other for dear life. It was invigorating.
It made me feel like a kid again. My wife and I had an amazing conversation while we were out there getting thrashed across the lake, bounced aimlessly over the waves of crossing vessels, and whipped way out while Bill took his turns ridiculously tight just trying with his might to throw us off.
Now, this is the lake that, usually for us, we enjoy leisurely kayak trips or inside the boat rides, or relaxing in an inner tube near our cottages’ docks, teaching our daughter how to swim in the waist deep area around our pieces of property, or just watching with the family as we sit in our comfy lawn chairs around a bonfire, tossing cornhole bags, enjoying barbecue. The younger of us guys trying some different brand of whiskey, bourbon, or scotch from the large selection they have at Beer World, not even a five minute walk away from the cottages. Bald Eagle Lake is our tranquility retreat, but today, it was our Disney World, a place where dreams are made of, a place that brought us back to our childhood, a place that brought out that kiddish giggle and that exuberant scream of elation that we haven’t felt in a long time. Today was a day to write in the book, a day I will never forget.
I love you Jackie, with all my heart, to the ends of the universe and back. Let’s find more ways to have many, many, many more moments like this together. Always and forever, tweety.