Well, How Did Those Plans Work Out?

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

As I sit here in complete peace and quiet, my wife is at our daughter’s house getting her kids ready for school. One is in kindergarten, one is in first grade. Oh yeah, and they have a 20-year-old brother. Don’t ask. I told my daughter she did that completely backward. I’ve tried calculating her age when these two get into their teenage years. I ran out of fingers and toes.

I remember when our oldest was born and people would say, “You’re so young to be starting a family.” Okay, I was 22, my wife was 18 – they were talking to her. And my response was always the same. “We’re doing this now so that, when we get older, our kids will be grown and moved out and we’ll have all that time to ourselves.” Read that again. Now you can laugh.

Oh, she moved out. On her 18th birthday, as we were putting candles on a cake, she was packing her bags. It wasn’t a pretty day. But in a little over a year she was home. A year later we became grandparents. At least she did it while we were young. By the time he grew up, we’d still have plenty of time for ourselves (more laughter).

Meanwhile our youngest graduated high school and took off to college. We were so proud. A year later that excursion ended. Well, the actual college part of it. I was still paying for those classes five years later.

All the while, we were doing the parent thing for a third time. My grandson was my best buddy. We did everything together – amusement parks, trips to the “guy store” (Sears), basketball in the street, and his first rock concert. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my grandparents, and I wanted him to have a different experience. Then he grew up.

I knew it was coming the first time I took him to football practice and, as he was getting ready to get out of my truck, I said, “Hey! Where’s my kiss?” He looked at the team assembled in front of us, then looked at me like, “Are you nuts?” The look in his eyes said it all. I settled for a half-hearted hug and accepted a sad reality. Grandpa wouldn’t always be the center of his universe.

Life changes. And yet, the more it changes, the more it stays the same. I’ve lost count of how many times our daughters have moved back in “for a week or two.” Since the first one moved out in 1998, we’ve had an empty nest for a total of about five years. And just about the time our oldest granddaughter was feeding herself, along came two more.

You know what they say about the best-laid plans. Forty years ago, I really thought we’d be out traveling the country by now, retired and wealthy, flying back to see the kids whenever we started missing them. Okay, forty years ago I still thought I’d be a rock star. Yeah, that never happened.

Now, as we plan what I hope will be a long winter escape in the motorhome, I think of the life we’d be leaving behind. The kids, our house, family dinners, babysitting, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, trash night, the neighbor’s dogs … uh huh. I won’t even be looking in the mirror for semis.

But I know that, about a month into that trip, we’ll start missing home. A month later we’ll wonder why we ever left. Two months later we’ll come home and immediately start planning our next trip. Because that’s what life is about – planning the next trip and reminiscing about the last one. Or figuring out what went wrong. That one seems to happen a lot.

I’ll never forget what my dad told me right before I left for the Navy. He said, “The two best duty stations in the world are the one you just left and the one you’re going to.” Okay, he told me a few other things as well, but we won’t go there. Suffice to say most of Dad’s lessons were pretty much on the mark. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

No matter what plans you’ve made, life will have a say in their execution. And even when things go just the way you’d planned, you find that it’s not always what you thought it would be. But as long as we continue to dream, nothing is ever permanent. The outcome can be whatever we want it to be. And even that can change.

Life isn’t measured in years – it’s measured in the experiences we have and the memories we make. Nothing ever goes completely according to plan, but there’s beauty to be found in those diversions. Just keep your eye on the goal and never give up. And when you get there, just think of all the extra stories you can tell.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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