And, of course, when I say, “I love my little sister,” what I mean is, “I love to give my little sister crap.” So as long as our recent jaunt down memory lane was so well received, I figured we might as well set the timer on the WayBack Machine a little farther back.
Years and years ago, right around the time I turned 16, my family and I went on our very last family bike ride.
If I’d known at the time it was going to be our last family bike ride, I’m not sure that would have made it any weirder. I was already too weirded out by the fact that it was our first family bike ride.
(Okay, I’m willing to concede that this might be an exaggeration. But I honestly can’t remember any family bike outings before this. And I honestly can remember wondering what the hell we were doing biking as a family.)
We weren’t going anywhere, we were just slowly rolling along the bike paths of Apple Valley, Minn. The bonding couldn’t have felt more forced if they’d dipped us in Elmer’s and squeezed us together with wood clamps. It was just awkward and I couldn’t figure out why we were doing it.
I don’t want to sound ungrateful. It wasn’t bad awkward. Looking back, that must have been one of the last times my dad was on a two-wheeled bike before the MS took too much of his balance. I should have savored that a little more. And I wasn’t a hateful or rebellious kid, so it’s not that I minded spending the time with my family. It was just weird.
I’m sure Dad did some grumbling. I’m sure Christine veered back and forth along the path, resulting in several near-misses. And I think it’s a safe bet that at some point my mom said at least one of the following things:
- “Oh, my, those are lovely hydrangeas.”
- “Kids, did you see the way that tree trunk has grown around the fencepost? Isn’t that neat?”
- “Tom, where was it that we saw that couple with the fellow who used to make those cute chainsaw lawn sculptures like that? Was that North Carolina?”
And that’s the way it went. For almost exactly an hour. At that point, Dad, struggling to look nonchalant, glanced at his watch and mused, “Well. I suppose we might as well start heading home.”
“Why?” asked Christine. “Are they done setting up for Greg’s surprise party?”
(sigh) I don’t even remember the party. I’m sure it was a dud, since I was something of a friendless troll. But I do remember the hoops my family jumped through to pull it off and the fantastic way my sister wrecked the surprise. In the end, that’s the much better memory. Thanks Christine!