An opportunity to go on a dream getaway presented itself to our family a few weeks ago, and we jumped at the chance. One of the wealthiest families in the country admires my husband’s work with inner city children and wanted to make their private ranch available to us for next to nothing. They didn’t have to ask twice! Due to a parent session scheduled Tuesday evening, my modern day Brady Bunch clan left Monday, and I was to join them following my presentation. Before setting out on the long drive, I had to double back in order to pick up T, one of those inner city kids who has grown up to be an amazing young man, partly due to my husband’s mentoring. The trip to collect him was out of my way but so worth it.
Once T and I finally made it to the “cabin”, we were blown away by its opulence. As we entered the security code and passed through the gate, it struck me – I’d been an inner city kid myself – that we’d be staying in the lap of luxury. Making our way up the long drive, I wondered how the children were responding to living the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
Over the next few days, I was pleasantly surprised. All six of the kids, twenty-year-old T included, were more into their magnificent natural surroundings than the stunning interiors. The youngest, Liv and Levi, were obsessed with six-week-old Pointer puppies and spent much of their time in the old barn covered in them. My three teenage stepsons had a literal blast shooting guns (but not really hunting), and driving John Deere Gators through the hunting grounds -especially in the pitch black with us riding along getting covered with dust!
A canoe trip that combined periods of lazing away on the creek and paddling furiously through rapids produced many touching and hilarious memories that will now be woven into the fabric of our family’s history. Another day on the water, this time on a boat equipped with all the amenities, allowed me to tube with my children for the second time in their short lives. Lying there on that huge raft with them and T (my husband and the boys had opted to sit that round out), I looked over the heads of my children and watched T soaking it all in. The water, the hills, the sky, and the sun. Growing up where we did, our view had been a little different. T got that. And appreciated it. Like I said, the drive to get him was worth it.
Other highlights were singing in the van on the way into town for ice cream. ALL the kids lying on beds they’d pushed together to watch The Lion King. Liv, who just turned eight, and Jordan who leaves for college next week, baking cookies together. Serious sixteen-year-old James scaring the daylights out of everyone when he charged into a room brandishing an enormous deer head he’d removed from the wall. And converting our five pound cheese puff container into an aquarium for the frog thirteen-year-old John caught for our littlest guy, six-year-old Levi. T sleeping out on the back porch – soaking it all in again.
Leaving was bittersweet. Not because I’d miss the lifestyle to which we’d all quickly become accustomed, but because I’d miss getting back to the basics of life.