After two days of adult beverages, rest, relaxation and laughter while we sat on a screened in porch that overlooked a lake in the Blue Ridge Mountains my sisters and I were ready to fly the nest. The three of us are doing some much-needed bonding and healing at my sister’s new vacation home. This morning we planned to take a tour of the beautiful lake. I’ve ridden on wave runners, jet skis, whatever you like to call them. But I have always been the passenger. I hesitated as my sister handed me the keys to one.
“Don’t worry, I will walk you through it. Driving is actually very easy.”
My confidence returned and to my surprise I was excited about the whole adventure. I boldly grabbed the keys, listened to the instructions and hoped on board. My sister pushed me and the wave runner into the water, I hit the start button and realized I thrilled to feel the power of the engine that was now in my control. I gave the throttle some gas, but not enough and everything rumbled to a stop. Undaunted, I pushed the start button again, felt the hum and this time gave the throttle much more gas. The wave runner leapt from its resting spot like a deer suddenly startled and I’m sure my eyes reflected the same look. I calmed myself with the thought. Ok, you can do this, this is easy. Slowly at first, as I got to know my new mode of transportation, I began to cruise gently around. Then, as I gained more confidence, more quickly. My sisters joined me on their wave runner and we began our tour. I enjoyed the view of the different houses and the landscape but since I could not hear the explanation of what was pointed out, I grew bored. And so, I began to play. Let’s see what this baby can do and more importantly how far I want to take it. I gunned the engine and began to fly across the water, I skimmed just the surface, and suddenly knew what a Swallow must feel like as it flies over the water in search of bugs. After the tour we re-grouped. We left the confines of the quiet cove my sister’s house is on, the one we had just disrupted with noise and waves and headed into the much bigger portion of the lake. I was mesmerized by the beauty. The color of the lake on this morning was a beautiful teal. As we toured around I admired the summer green of the deciduous trees that surrounded the lake as the pranced down to the red Georgia clay of the shoreline. Further up on the hills and mountains the blue-green of the pine trees demonstrated why these mountains are called Blue Ridge. Breath taking. I looked around at the expanse of the lake, surprisingly, the lake was ours. I did not see any other boats. I gave the throttle some more gas and once again began to fly. A huge grin spread across my face, I could not contain it, even if I wanted to. Without warning a yell of “Yahoo” escaped from my lips. I sped away from my sisters to do more playing. I felt free. Then my eyes began to tear up. Was I going to cry? I let my emotions go and I listened to what they were telling me.
Think about it, it has been six years of worry. For six years every time I went away I worried about the phone call I would get saying something had happened to Mom. I worried that she would need me, and I would not be there. For six years I never went anywhere without making prior arrangements for her care. I left phone numbers and lined up help. Since our mother’s death, this was the first time in six years I had just packed my suitcase and walked out the door. I’m not saying I did not enjoy myself during those years. But, there was always that nagging responsibility and the question of the unexpected phone call. I worried when doing activities, about injury to myself. I needed to be in one piece to care for Mom.
My eyes cleared and my grin returned. Gratitude for this day and this vacation filled my spirit. I pulled on the throttle and continued gaining speed until I hit the speed of 53 miles per hour. I felt this was an appropriate speed as it is also my age on the day I realized I am in control, and no longer a passenger.