We recently went on a weekend camping trip. It is the same camping trip that has been organized by a group of friends from our high school since 1983. It’s called Summer Soltesz after the originator, Steve Soltesz who unfortunately passed away 2 years ago.
The weekend was very much the same as in years past, but also different in so many ways. First, many of the attendees are parents, so the original party weekend in the woods now involves a pavilion where our children perform, drinking games are replaced by beading and crafts, and most everyone is asleep pretty early. It’s come to be a truly great family weekend. That’s not to say that there aren’t still drinking games, but they happen after the tents are filled with mouth breathing little ones passed out from a day on the lake.
One of the major changes wrought on this event is the shifting status of families. Whereas in past years also, young couples were forming and new people were brought into the event through marriage, this year several long standing marriages were reported in jeopardy. Given the large number of families that have come to camp each year, this should not have been a surprise, but it still was. The reality of (1) not seeing the usual couples together because one stayed away as a result of the separation, or (2) seeing two people who literally have a hundred mutual friends sitting frostily at separate camps, was unsettling. I was sad for all of us.
At the end of this strange, and yet still wonderful weekend, there was much to absorb. Frank and I worked silently together to strike camp beginning shortly after we got up until close to lunch hour. And as we were ready to leave, Frank had one final bit of bad news: He had just padlocked the trailer with the truck keys inside.
It was hot. We were tired. It was time to go and we couldn‘t leave. Frank asked around for a bolt cutter to get the padlock off, and actually found someone who had one to lend. Unfortunately, it was broken in the attempt to get to the keys.
Did I mention it was hot and we were tired? Since we had a car and dad hat the truck, the kids wanted to leave and let Daddy catch up later. When I told them we were not leaving Daddy, they had a ton of suggestions for how he might succeed (Bad Idea). It was lunch time and everyone was hungry, but first, we decided we would go to Walmart to buy another pair of bolt cutters…and a t-shirt. My beloved’s shirt had been “decorated” by a bird at some point during our morning’s work. After 20 + years together, I had learned one thing about how to deal with my husband: when Frank is upset/hurt/angry/frustrated, my best bet is to shut up, stay calm, and be supportive. And so we all drove to the Walmart, got his tools and tee and headed back. The kids and I waited in the air-conditioned car as Frank went back to struggle with breaking into our trailer.
The children began prompting me with what we should tell Daddy he should do. I whispered to them the secret: “When daddy is frustrated and saying ‘big words’ it is best for us to be quiet and wait to be asked for help instead of offering any help.” That’s when my lovely son Bryce said,
“Mommy, maybe we should pray for Daddy.”
I replied, “I already have.”
Me too! he cried.
“Me too!” chuckled my daughter, Clarke.
“But, said Bryce, “I want to pray all together.”
And so we did. And at that point, Frank go into the truck. (Yeah, God!)
Later, as we were headed down the highway toward a late lunch, something very important became apparent to me and I shared it with the kids.
“Do you know what you witnessed today, kids?”
“No, what?” they asked.
“Marriage,” I told them. “That is what marriage is. When things are inconvenient and frustrating and not working right: remember that you are in it together and support one another lovingly and quietly.”
That and the Grace of God has helped us through.
Hopefully, the kids got the message.