Sometimes, I get surprised by how things turn out.
(Shocker, I know.)
Last Saturday at around 3:30 p.m. I started down the road to just such an occurrence.
The 2010 Corry family reunion was winding down. The horseshoe tournament had been played and won, the talent show was over, people had taken down their tents and packed up their sleeping bags. We started breaking camp, rolling up tablecloths, sweeping the cement under the pavilion, and taking the kids on the annual "trash walk".
Saturday afternoon at the Corry reunion. It's a bittersweet time. For reasons that will probably become apparent within the next paragraph or two, we (meaning my parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, husband and daughter) don't come off the mountain until Sunday morning. However, nearly all of the other attendees head down sometime between noon and six p.m. on Saturday. This year it was earlier than usual. By four-thirty, we had the mountain to ourselves.
For a minute I was sad. Sad as I thought about how an hour earlier the spot had been a bustling busy area, full of kids getting muddy, and women chatting (with a little gossip thrown in), and teens playing basketball, and dogs running around looking for forgotten vittles, and a million other things going on. The Corry's are anything but a timid, shy group. We're yellers. Not angry, cruel yellers, more like boisterous, exuberant, we-just-can't-keep-our-excitement-to-ourselves yellers. For nearly forty-eight hours, the mountain had rang with the yells and shouts and cheers of Corrys. Now it was quiet, nearly eerily so.
And then, just as it does every year, the sadness left, as I realized that once again, we pretty much had the mountain to ourselves. All the land and the green and the grass and the great feelings that were left over after the gloriousness of the main reunion were all ours for the enjoying. For a brief moment I felt gleeful--almost like I was allowed to stay in Disneyland after the gates had been locked and all the other tourists had been forced to go home.
I went up to my parents' trailer and took a shower. Oh sweet indulgence! I played with Heather and two of my nieces.
I went on an extended four-wheeler ride, following my dad over roads and trails that I'd never traveled before. This ride was probably the highlight of the weekend for me, and may even end up being the highlight of my summer. Beautiful country, wind rushing through my (helmet-covered) hair, memories of past happinesses, and hopes for future joy all flooded my mind as I drove through that country. I thought of how grateful I was to have my dad there with me, cancer-free, twinkly-eyed, and brimming with energy. I thought of how grateful I was to have my Heather and my Eric back at the camp, good-natured, happy, and satisfied. I thought of about a hundred other blessings that were mine for the living.
After the 4-wheeler ride, I moseyed down to where my siblings and nieces and nephews were playing softball. The game was over (which was fine with me--I have no aptitude for softball), and we made our way to the newly assembled teeter-totter, where we were all able to ride for as long as we wanted. (We rode so long in fact, that the next morning I was saddle sore.)
And then it was back up to the trailer for supper, followed by more chatting, and s'mores, and a sing-along around the campfire with the guitar and the songbooks. My cousin joined us with his family, just like they do every year. We sang all the usual songs, Piano Man, Edelweiss, The Gambler, On Top of Spaghetti, Leader of the Band, Feelin' Groovy, and some that we hadn't sung for several years. Darkness fell and the stars came out. Eventually we put away the guitar (my fingers were killing me!), and the children were put to bed. And then we chatted. I don't even remember what we talked about, so it obviously wasn't all that important. And yet, it was important. Ya know?
It was all important, and filling, and just what I needed.
And I didn't even know that I needed it.