|Our children at the wedding|
"But I don't have any camping equipment," I said at one point.
"Doesn't matter," he said, "I have everything all packed. All you need are some pillows and blankets for you and your kids." He had borrowed his roommate's truck and pop-up tent trailer for the weekend. So after a stop at my apartment, and a quick trip to the grocery store for some last minute items, we headed to a nearby canyon.
While the children were having fun playing together and running around the campsite, David and I started setting up camp. Then we made a horrifying discovery: he forgot the key to the trailer! That meant that everything in the trailer (all the food, the beds, etc.) were safely locked away and we couldn't get to them. We discussed what we should do, including going back home, but the kids begged us to stay. We decided we could make it work . . . until we realized that we didn't have any matches for a fire! Fortunately some people were camping nearby and graciously let us have some matches when we explained our predicament.
We had fun sitting around the campfire, which was something new for my children, telling stories and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. When it came time for bed, we decided to have the 3 boys sleep together under a tree with 2 of the blankets and pillows. David and I put the 3 little girls between us and tried to get comfortable in the back of the pickup. It was icy! We eventually gave that up. The girls and I ended up sleeping in the cab, and David slept on the ground by the campfire. It was a long, cold night.
I liked David's sense of adventure and willingness to make the best out of a bad situation. Our children also had a good time together (it was our first joint outing). After that memorable trip we dated more seriously and ended up marrying two months later. It was the beginning of many camping adventures together.
We had a small wedding ceremony with just a few friends and family in attendance. I don't suppose that any one who was there really believed that we could make this family work. We had so many strikes against us, including very little money, broken and blended family issues, as well as David's health problems that included bad knees not to mention the undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
So often our life together has resembled that camping trip. There were many times when we wondered if we would make it, but quitting never seemed like the right thing to do. We have had our share of unexpected events that have demanded some creative solutions to the problems.
And so here we are: David is doing much better at controlling his disorder, our relationship is better than it has ever been, and our children are happy, healthy, productive adults raising their own families. We are proud of each of them and our 18 grandchildren.
The words of the Thanksgiving hymn come to mind:
Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom his earth rejoices;
Who, from our mother's arms,
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.
Oh, may our bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us,
And keep us in his love,
And guide us day and night,
And free us from all ills,
Protect us by his might.
Our family through the years:
|Our first family portrait|
|With all the children|
|Just before the oldest left home|
|At Jeff's wedding in 2008|
|At Katie's wedding in 2009|