Road trip & family reunion surprises

Kanti danced around the truck trying to climb in every time we opened the door to deposit more very necessary items we could not possible leave without. The hands on the clock in the trailer were stuck again but time slipped by anyway. We negotiated what we needed to take along versus what we wanted to take along which was utterly ridiculous.  Room was not an issue, there would only be the two of us.  The negotiating was just a habit from the early years of trying to fit two kids, a dog, two adults, and assorted flotsam into a vehicle.  The negotiating felt comfortable.  Sometimes it was more a reasonableness check than a negotiation.  How many toys did Nana really need to put in the trailer for the grand boys?

We left the driveway much earlier than originally planned with one small basket of toys in the trailer. Kanti followed the truck down the driveway with a bewildered look on her face. The house sitter-dog sitter would take great care of her but my guilt still erupted. It was similar to the early days of kindergarten when I would leave Matt sobbing with the teacher after I had pried him out of the minivan.  He was very good at doing a spread eagle in the door of the van that made it nigh impossible to dislodge him.  But that is a different trip down another memory lane.

And we were away, avoiding the crazies on the QE II who were oblivious to the fact they were cutting off roughly 50 feet of truck and trailer tooting along at 112 kms/hr.  That much vehicle and momentum does not lend itself to stopping on a dime without some carnage.  Fortunately Greg has many years of driving and a very calm demeanour.  I confess to having many years of driving in the passenger seat without a calm demeanour.  Lucky for me, Greg's calmness extends to dealing with my driving narrative/directions and my nerves.  What a big load for him!

The load was traveling along all right, south through the prairie with spectacular views of the Rockies rising to the west.  The scenery was glorious. There were some hiccups but we survived sitting in traffic on the highway for two and half hours because of an accident, then we rescued the stranded kids, piled more stuff into the trailer, abandoned the Westie at some nice stranger's house and carried on. Montana was the destination and the occasion was a Monsma family reunion, something that had not happened in twenty-four years.

At eleven o'clock in the deep darkness on a twisting turning mountainous road, looking for fish signs, Greg's good humour was running out. He was concerned we might have taken a wrong turn.  There was no cell signal to call the family or to Google a map.  We were kind of one our own.  We were at the starting gate of an argument.  He wanted me to get out in the dark scary night to check the address of the gate we had found.  I wasn't getting out of the truck in the dark in cougar country.  As we sparred, little lights bounced up the hill beside us and we heard people calling.  We had arrived, those tiny lights were radiating from phones held by family who had been watching for us.  The voices were reassuring; we were in the right place.  We were about to be enfolded by family.  The guys were there to help Greg navigate backwards down another twisting turning road to our camping spot.  My sister in law put her arm around me and took me to the kitchen and the wine!  All those waiting relatives were glad to see us, it was good again.

Family reunions are a lot like our road trip, they inevitably have oases of beautiful and strips of ugly because that's life and every one of us is a bit broken. Our individual brokenness can destroy any evidence of good or we can grab hold of grace allowing it to heal us and giving it to others as a lifeline.  When we understand our own need for grace we are able to give it away more freely.  Grace eases the rough edges and the tiring pounding of life.  It makes us a little more kind and a little more forgiving.  Grace helps us add more beautiful to our brokenness, our families, and our life.

For the record - we had a wonderful time at the family reunion but it was because many of our family have learned how to grab hold of grace and give it away!