Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cotton Pickin' Weeds

It has been a few weeks now, but the memory still fresh. The family was off for one of the rare extended weekend trips to the lake. We had been looking forward to this trip for a while as we would be joined by Kerry (one of my tri brothers in the picture) and his family. Our plan was to leave on Thursday early afternoon to get to the lake house in order to set things up for our friends who would be traveling in later that night. I was pulling the boat with my truck and we were loaded down with all the essentials of a fun trip to the lake.

As we passed through one of the first small towns, the two lane road was down to one due to construction. I began to hear an unusual noise. Thump-thump-thump-thump. It sounded like my tire had an object stuck in it. They were new tires so I assumed a rock had wedged inside the tread. I pulled over to investigate and everything looked good.

We got back on the road and the noise seemed to dissipate. Yet, after traveling another 30 miles into the middle of nowhere, the noise resumed and this time it grew louder and louder. Not only that, the truck began to vibrate and shake. Knowing something was definitely wrong, I put my foot on the brake to pull over. However, my anti-lock brakes had kicked in and I had minimal braking power. We eased over to a stop and the smell of smoke filled the cabin of the truck.

I get out to investigate to find my right front tire at about a 45 degree angle. I thought to myself, "That's not normal!". I reached down to remove the hubcap only to be singed by the extreme heat that had turned my wheel into a hot iron skillet. Trying to figure out what might be the problem, I considered the brake job I recently had done or the tires I had rotated just a few days prior. In a panic, I call my mechanic friend and fellow elder who drove 40 miles to give us a hand.

When he arrived, his assessment was quick and clear..."You're not going anywhere. I'll call a tow truck."

It's the middle of the afternoon in the middle of nowhere, my truck is filled with luggage, food and toys for the weekend and we are not going anywhere. This can't be true!

It is true. So we unhook the boat, unload everything (and I do mean everything) out of my truck and onto the side of the road. We looked like a gypsy family who had struck it rich!

Not wanting to give up on our rare weekend away, we called my brother who agreed to let us come back into town and get his suburban. We couldn't leave everything unattended, so Teri went back with my friend to pick up a suburban and I stayed with our stuff at the side of the road along with our 2 boys (2 and 7).

What transpired was a 3 hour delay, on a July West Texas afternoon, in the middle of a cotton field.

"Are you sad?", my sensitive oldest son would ask. "Maybe a little." I would respond. "But we have so much to be thankful for too. After all, it's not raining (I had a flashback to the Young Frankenstein movie at this point just waiting for a cloud to burst open in a downpour)."

What would follow was nice time of reflection with my sons about all that we were thankful for despite the fact that we were waiting for help in the middle of a cotton field. Yet, as thankful as we were, we still had 2 more hours to kill. So we played hide and seek in the cotton field. We threw dirt clods in the cotton field. And best of all, we pulled weeds in the cotton field.

My oldest was the one who discovered it. After pulling his first weed, he exclaimed, "Dad, try pulling a weed. It really does make you feel better!" So weed after weed, we made our way through the cotton field seeing who was strong enough to pull the biggest weed. Even my 2 year old got into the game and did quite well.

A few weeds, a few games of hide and seek, a few rock hunts and 3 hours had passed. The suburban pulled up and we were off to what would be a great weekend with friends.

Almost $1000.00 later, my truck was repaired as good as new. My family was safe and we had great memories with our friends.

How easy it was for me to be lost in the discouragement of the mess we were in. Ah, the gift of children! Those who remind us that pulling weeds actually makes you feel better. The reminder that as bad as the circumstance might be, we can usually make a long list of what we should be thankful for amidst the difficulties in which we find ourselves. And in the end, you can still pack up your stuff and move on down the road to better times.

One of the many lessons learned from my children.

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