I’m in Oklahoma visiting my Daddy after his fall last week. He had a compound fracture and has since had surgery on it. He is in a lot of pain and I hurt to see him hurt. I love to be around my Daddy. He is my hero and my encourager. He is a man of great strength and integrity. I am so honored to be his daughter. He brings me so much joy and laughter in my life. We’ve always been kindred spirits, cheering each other on to victory.
We have a term in our family that indicates an adventurous family event is going to happen. I believe my dad coined this phrase, “Be Glad Days” from Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” We had more “be glad days” than I can even remember, but I know they were each filled with lots of laughter and, quite possibly, a few tears.
It is the time of year many of us start our vacations. It is getting warmer and we all start looking forward to a sunny vacation. Where will the road or plane take us all this season? I’ve heard it said that the planning and anticipation of the trip is a huge part of the trip itself. I agree. I’m a travel hound dog! I will mix and match and stand on my head to find the super bargain saver deals. I find the deals people say couldn’t exist! If I actually got paid for the time I’ve put in on family travel planning I would be wealthy enough to go anywhere first class, but I know myself well enough to know I would still do exactly what I have always done, and love every minute of it.
Our “Be Glad Days” might be a mini vacation or even just a Saturday day trip. When you live in Southern California and can go to Disneyland or the beach or mountains any Saturday you want, you tend to vacation right where you live, as there is so much to do in your own backyard. We would watch the Disneyland fireworks at night from our driveway, lying on the hood of the car. It was pretty hard to top! Therefore, we didn’t often take a typical family vacation. All of our family lived in Oklahoma and, since we lived in California, that was our vacation every year– the long 24+ hour car drive from Anaheim, California to Norman, Oklahoma, and then back again on the old Route 66. These were the days that, if a car had an air conditioner, it had to be turned off to get through the desert without the car exploding into flames. (That was “adventure” traveling!)
My brother and I would rule the back seat, with my baby sister in the front with my Mom. (These were the days before car seat and seat belts.) We had lots of energy as we started out for our ‘be glad day.’ We wouldn’t be to the end of the street before the first warning was given by my dad, “Now kids, I want you to stop kicking my seat and acting ‘a fool.’ Settle down now — we haven’t even gotten started yet. Do you hear me?” In unison, “Yes, ok Daddy,” but no sooner had the words been spoken than we would look at each other and burst into laughter at what we knew was a ridiculous notion… “Settle down? Yea right! Not likely”—
As we began our drive across country we had energy abounding and everyone started off happy. These long, hot hours were filled with numerous made up loud games — annoying to even the most patient of parents (any parent, that is, except for my little Mama). Nothing really ever bothered her. She was easy going and always a smooth operator. My daddy had a bit of a different temperament, by his own admission. We are Irish. The Rileys. Enough said. I take after my dads’ side…I’ve been told by those close to me. My brother and I were acting ‘a fool’ in the back seat, down into the floor board, fighting over who got to sit on the hump of the middle, drawing imaginary lines on the seats that we deemed yours, mine, and neutral zone. Each of us would inch our way as close to the other’s territory without actually trespassing. This, naturally, with high pitched yelling accusations, which including kicking and then — Trouble.
I knew it was coming. I could see my Daddy’s face getting red and his knuckles were way too white. Here it comes! Looking back and forth at my Mom and then back at us several times, my Dad would finally say through his teeth, “Honey, looks to me like you could do something about these kids. I can’t discipline them and drive this car at the same time.” My Mom, in typical fashion, calmly glanced his way and would say, “What? Well, they’re not bothering me.” She was then back to her reading or nap. This is the classic line we’ve laughed at and repeated for decades.
I’m the sensitive soul of our family. I can feel the slightest change in pressure within people. This unique gift provided me the tools necessary to torment my brother and, then, to know the exact moment to silently retreat — leaving him hanging out to dry…. clueless. One can initiate all kinds of conflict without being loud or even speaking for that matter. This is where I excelled. I was able to watch the drama unfold and would place myself safely behind my daddy’s seat, sitting on the floor board sideways with my legs extended straight out penning Mark behind my mamas seat where my daddy could more easily “tend to him” leaving me golden and silently mocking his pain. Ahhh, those were the days! For these reasons my parents finally purchased the old family station wagon, well equipped with wood panels, an air conditioner and a moon roof. The feature that sealed the deal was the backwards seat in the furthest rear of the car, which my dad carefully explained was just for us! Oh what a wonderland that was, much more space in which to live our imaginary world on 4 wheels.
My favorite memory (which makes me laugh out loud to this day) is when my Dad had enough of my brother’s not being able to “settle down.” He pulled the car over in the middle of the Mojave Desert and said, “Get out son! I mean it … get out of this car right now! I want you run as fast and as long as you can behind this car.” Mark actually seemed happy to take the challenge and counted it quite the adventure. I jumped up into the back window and propped up on my elbows for this delightful turn of events. The best part of the performance for me was when he was ready to stop but my Dad acted like he couldn’t hear him calling — “Stop, stop, I’m settled down, I’m settled down now.” I just laughed and I laughed! He did eventually stop and let my brother back in the car. I honestly think he preferred the running behind the car, as I feel sure he was imagining being dressed in a blue superhero costume, with a huge red cape flapping in the blazing desert heat. He was faster than a speeding bullet, after all. I am confident you will hear more Mark stories as he provided the most entertainment growing up.
So, for me, today is a “be glad day” cause I got to see my Daddy and know he is going to be ok. That is quite a good day in my world. I hope you and your family have some wonderful “be glad days” ahead.