I have always been very fond of the movie “Hope Floats” …. all about returning home and finding that the people who love you, understand you and support you are there just waiting to give you your second wind when you need it – no matter how much time passes.
This week Hope floated nearly 400 miles through the hills of West Virginia and Kentucky all the way to my back door in North Carolina.
I had no idea.
It was a secret kept for over a month despite our chatting online, telephone calls and exchanging snapchats. Even my husband knew…. not a word.
Little did my cousins know how much of a family time deficit I had been in. It helped to talk to them almost daily, yet it was not the same as being with them as I had done in May during our reunion. Just as a child… I always wanted “more time” and leaving them was always more painful than missing them.
I also had no idea that these plans were actually made by my Uncle James, who had made his journey to Heaven only a few months ago. Since I would be celebrating a milestone birthday (the 50th – Sshhhh) He had told his daughter “now you know we have to go down there and surprise neicy for her 50th Birthday in July” so… the promise was made.
Hearing a knock on the back door was odd enough… and Hannah yelling “Mom! you have to come out here”…. okay, to be honest? I had put my shirt on backwards earlier in the day and was in here trying to hurry and fix it before I went to see what all of the racket was about.
Tears. Surprise. SHOCK!
And there they were…an 8 hour drive later.. standing in my back yard with a Birthday Cake and smiles that would light up the darkest of spaces in anyone’s soul.
After we exchanged hugs.. I composed myself. I said “What in the world possessed y’all to take a road trip?!!!!!!
“Well, it was Dad’s idea actually”
There are no words that can describe the love that I felt at that very moment. I cried so hard I could hardly speak…. Hope Floats in tears too. I loved him so… and He always loved me back so good. I just know he had to be smiling.. and probably laughing because they really got one over on me.
And just like that, my week was filled. For the next four days.. my cup ran over. Hope floated in my swimming pool…. laughter and splashing and watching our girls enjoy some cousin time. They have no idea how much we had needed their presence. They were exhausted.. I knew it but they never complained about making that drive for me, and just like the movie quote.. “they’d walk thru fire for me” if it was required. Okay, Mary may have felt a little heat – like fire after she left here looking like a lobster. I am so sorry Mary… I should have watched out for you better.. like I did when you were little! hahhahahha.
I enjoyed them so much… and knew that when I found out they had never watched the Krispy Kreme process or the meaning of “the hot sign is on” I knew exactly where our next adventure would lead us..
When the only thing they could say was “Oh my goodness” I knew it was a success! They will never look at a gas station box of donuts the same. Of course, there had to be coffee involved too. Not a bad way to spend a rainy day. I think we could have sat there all night, but we had more visiting to do.. after all, we already knew time would pass much too quickly.
My house was full. So was my heart. It’s not that I have been in a depressive state, I haven’t, but I have surely had some loneliness that seemed to loom over this head of mine. I miss my family..every. single. day. These girls were like lightning bugs twinkling in my darkness. Hope floats in like tiny lights of joy throughout the sunroom and kitchen. I love lots of light and I surely needed some extra! Thank you girls for being my lightning bugs! (or fireflies if you prefer to call them that.
Our children were more like little kids again.. not seniors and juniors and middle schoolers! That alone was pure joy and seemed to give us a little time out from that reality.
There was another goal that week. Rain or shine.. we would take a day trip to the beach. Boy, did it rain and rain.. all the way there. The ride alone was worth it. All of us talking and catching up, loud music and well, I’ll just say it was a whole lot of laughing. (Best medicine for the soul ever!) Did it stop raining when we got there? nope. We set up our spot in the misting rain, I think we all had our own private conversations with God about Him sending us just a little break in the weather. Did I forget to mention He is faithful in all things? Hope Floats in drops of rain. On the beach.
Oh, and just because she was frowning.. Sarah was not mad – the sun was in her eyes.
This was the very first time the three of us gals were on the beach at the same time and we made use of every single moment. We walked on the beach treasure hunting..splashed in the water.. and may or may not have played a few tricks on Jeanette while she was sleeping on her blanket. (beach birds sure do love a trail of cheese crackers!!!!) I could almost hear my Uncle James laughing in the ocean breeze.. I know we made him proud.. If he had been there, He would have been the one to initiate the shenanigans!
I can’t tell you how many times I cried this week.. from laughter or just being full of gratitude, it was countless. I slept very little at night, because I knew they would return from their hotel the next morning and I could hardly wait. We really did make the most of every day we were together, that’s what we do.
I also knew that it was almost over. There would be a time of packing everything up.. getting the sand out of our belongings and them preparing the GPS for the trip back to the mountains. When they were finally loaded into the car and we had said our repeated goodbyes, prayed for a safe trip and just like that..they pulled out of my driveway..Hannah said.. just don’t look back Momma.. don’t watch them drive away and it will be easier. It wasn’t.
I remembered a line from Hope Floats again.. a story about a lovely ant hill that was stepped on and really damaged only to find that all was not lost..the ants had began to rebuild,, get their second wind.. this is the quote that has always stuck with me..
And I said ‘Why do they do it? I’d just give up. I mean, it’s hopeless!’ And my mama said ‘Yeah, you know, if there’s just one of ya. But there’s lots of ants down there. And they’re all relatives. They’re family, just like we are.’ You know? That’s what families are for. That’s why they invented families: so hopeless didn’t get the last word.
That’s right.. hopeless doesn’t get the last word here either. We will continue to encourage one another.. long for more visits.. comfort when needed and laugh when it’s needed even more. Mostly, we will treasure the time and each other.
Our time was fleeting.. just like the sunset leaving the beach, but everyone knows that the sun will come up in the morning… and set in the evening and we will be there for each other in between the two.
Thank you girls for giving me the best early 50th party ever. I love you to the moon and back. Thank you to my dear husband for keeping this a secret for almost an entire month! It has meant so much to me.
“Just give Hope a chance to float up.. and it will”
….. and it may just be waiting at your back door with cake!