Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-changes ...

A stage in my life came to an end last week. It was a stage I refused for a long, long time to acknowledge would ever come to a close.

My daughter was the first to make me see there was no holding it back. Then my husband dragged me kicking and screaming toward the inevitable when he bought a boat for the third stall in our garage and a car that doesn't tow. But inevitable it was. As my kids have grown, our family has changed and so, necessarily, have our interests. And camping seems to be one of those interests falling by the wayside. We sold our tent trailer last week.

From the time when my husband and I first started dating, we've camped. One box of supplies, tents, mats and sleeping bags, and we were set. A dog and a child made camping in an actual tent much more complicated, so that's when we bought our tent trailer.

The trailer made family camping trips doable. There was a door and real beds, a table and a roof over our heads. We stored all our non-perishable supplies in the trailer, so that all we had to do was pack groceries before taking off. The beds were even more comfortable than my bed at home and we had someplace to hang and play cards if it rained.

We had that trailer for nineteen years and took very good care of it because I knew that when it was gone I'd be done camping. No more sleeping on the ground for this old body.

But it's not really camping that I'm sad to let go. It's the family time, the long hours with my kids fishing, hiking, talking around a campfire. The most poignant memories I have of family time are associated with this tent trailer.

I still remember our first long trip we took right after we bought it. We went to Wisconsin's Door County and my daughter, only two years old at the time, had her first ever pony ride. I remember all three of us, my dh, dd, and me, taking an afternoon nap, dd lying between dh and me. All three screens were open and breeze blew over us almost as if we were outside under the trees. After a long, peaceful rest, my daughter woke, sat quickly up to look around, and asked, "Where go my house?"

When the weekends got busy, we used to set the trailer up in our driveway. The kids would play in it during the day, eat lunch at the little table and have sleepovers with friends. More than once, I had to go out and sleep with them because a noise might've scared them, or they'd told too many scary stories.

My parents loved it when we camped at the park in my hometown. Instead of hanging at their house, they'd hang with us at the park until long after dark. We'd be sitting around the campfire and my dad would get tired and go home. But my mom always slept over with us. I didn't fully understand why until now. It gave her a chance to slip back in time and relive all her sweet memories of taking her own kids camping, sleeping almost under the stars, waking slowly to sound of birds two feet away.

Quite honestly, we should've sold that tent trailer a good two years ago. Some people seem to take life changes in stride. They glide easily through the natural stages of life. Unfortunately, I'm one of those who doesn't.

Is there a trick to it? Is there something - a personality trait, an attitude, or something else - that makes life easier? Have some of your life changes been easier to deal with than others?

And, yes, a few tears were shed in the writing of this post!


Terry Odell said...

So far, I've embraced change. We're trying to adjust to the 'retirement' phase now, and I honestly can't wait for someone to buy our house so we can move far, far away.

KylieBrant said...

Helen, there's no 'gliding' here. Many times there's an unawareness of the change until I realize we haven't done ** for two years. Like you, I cling to every stage in my life, trying to wring every last drop of memory from it.

I hated camping. My mantra was 'don't call this my vacation'. I went home for naps and showers. (We reeeeeeally roughed it. No running water. Only outhouses.) But those times with our kids and friends and their kids are among some of my best memories. Long endless days. Even more endless evenings! And just loads of laughter and fun. My kids still talk about wanting a camping reunion.

I think what makes me so unwilling to let go of things is the knowledge you'll never get it back. Things won't ever be exactly the same. And despite being eager for other changes the years bring (grandchildren spring to mind!) each new stage also means I'm letting go of my youth. Just another reason not to let go easily!

GunDiva said...

Helen, your post made me sad. I'm not sure that I could do it. Holding on for only two years, is pretty good; I think I'd hold on to that thing until I died. I have the same type of memories of my great-grandmother's truck camper. It was sad to see it go when she died, as it held lots of fond memories of childhood. I can't actually remember camping in it, but my cousin and I practically lived in it in the backyard. Summer meant that we could open up the camper and use it as our own little fort. We had lunch in it, played cards, took naps, and in general had a great time. Thanks for bringing back fond memories :)

Debra - I got the book (Soul Catcher) yesterday and I'm about halfway through it. It's great, thanks!

Helen Brenna said...

Terry, I have a feeling retirement will be another something I resist! Parts of it sound wonderful, but other parts not so much.

I'm thinking if you have your health, it's a better ballgame.

Helen Brenna said...

Maybe that's what's at the heart of this, Kylie, the realization that I'm letting go of my youth. Might be something in that!

Helen Brenna said...

GunDiva - this post made me sad, too, so you're not alone. We had an old truck camper when I was a kid. God, I loved that thing. I think I can still remember the way that camper smelled. Not bad, at all. It just had it's own scent, like nothing else in the world. Except for maybe your grandmother's camper!

lois greiman said...

I'm terrible at letting stuff go if it concerns the kids. I still have one of my son's horses and he hasn't ridden for three years. But I can't give up the memories. And, too, he says he'd kind of like to have her around for his kids. :) So maybe some changes are okay.

Helen Brenna said...

Lois, I honestly thought for a sec that we should hold on to the tent trailer for when my kids had kids. LOL Might work with a horse, but not so much with an already too old tent trailer!

Keri Ford said...

Oh, Helen. that is so sad! Look to the future and maybe your daughter will buy one and then you can stay with her and her family as your mother did with you.

When i was little girl, my parents were into horses. At any given time, we had 20 horses and a couple mares pregnant. we went on trail rides, competed at horse shows. And then one horse at a time started leaving the farm. I just didn't get it. My horse loving parents were turning into river rats!

Now all the horses are gone (have been for a long time), but TONS of fantastic memories have been made at the river camp.

Look to your next 'thing' and for those memories that will come with them. Just because you're not camping doesn't mean you can't have fun.

Kathleen O said...

I have had so many changes in my life the last three or so years, I need a swinging door on my life... Some have been good changes, while others have been hard to take. But I have adapted and I think that is the part of change that has been easy.. Live and let live have become my new mantra..

BTW I just finshed Next Comes Love and it was a wonderful book.. I cannot wait to visit again to Mirabelle Island..

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks, Keri. I have to admit, I do hope my kids enjoy camping when/if they have families, and I think I will try to sneak along every once in a while!

Helen Brenna said...

Kathleen, your comments makes me wonder ... is it possible I don't have enough change in my life? No. I'm just plain old stubborn. Have a tough time letting go!

And I'm so glad you enjoyed Next Come Twins. You won't have love to wait for #3. And I'm working on revisions for #4 right now!

Mary Anne Gruen said...

I suspect it's easier to glide through natural stages when you're not sorry to see the last stage go. LOL If it's the end of *good* age like you're describing, it can't help but be hard.

You've got some really good memories there. Maybe there are new ones waiting in new traditions.

Helen Brenna said...

LOL, Mary Anne, I think you have something there! It's hard to leave good things behind.

At least I have good times to remember, eh?

Christie Ridgway said...

Oh, those memories sound so wonderful, Helen, even to me who is a decided non-camper. I don't know that there's any easy way to let go of something that brings up such great times.

I have to say I saw some little kids in soccer stuff last wknd and I told Surfer Guy I was not sad to be done with soccer games every Saturday. He, however, says he still misses getting up early to draw the lines, etc.

Debra Dixon said...

Gosh, my parents dragged us to every campground, backwoods forgotten spot on the planet.

I did not camp with my son. I'm probably a bad mother. LOL! We did some "whole family" camping trips to the Spring River in Arkansas and did some canoeing. But camping was never my style.

Used to drive my step-father batty because I didn't *do* anything to help when we camped. Hubby kept trying to explain to him that we had a deal. I went. I didn't complain and I didn't set or strike camp. Worked for us. My step-father never could stop complaining about it. LOL!

PJ said...

Helen, that brought a few tears to my eyes too. Some things are easy for me to let go of. Others, not so much.

In 1985, my job took us from Sarasota, FL to Jacksonville. We had to leave our beautiful townhouse in a lovely wooded development, just off the bay. It was our first home together, where we were married and had lived for nine years, and it carried many precious memories. Did I cry when we left? No. We also owned 5 acres in the country. We'd had it about three years at the time. We had cleared the acreage ourselves, built a barn on it (ourselves and without electricity), and hauled our tent out there to camp at least one weekend every month (and often more). We cooked over a fire pit, got filthy dirty, lazed in a hammock strung between two trees, and talked late into the night under a black velvet canopy of brilliant stars. While the movers emptied the barn, I sat on the picnic table in the middle of the property and bawled my eyes out. Some changes are easier than others.

Zoesgarden said...

I camped as a child too and then my parents gave my older sister the camper and God knows what she did with it. When I bought my house this year, I got a bonus of a pop up camper. I haven't tried it out yet as my SUV didn't come with a hitch and now I look out and it appears to be sinking...nope, it's a flat tire. But I have a spare. It might be next spring, but by golly, I'll get that gem polished and back on the road. Thanks for the inspiration!

Cindy Gerard said...

Helen your post was so sweet and nostalgic and yes, had me a little teary eyed - but in a good way.
Change is inevitable. sometimes easy. Sometimes, not so much. There's no easy way to get through but to let it happen and some day look back and realize how lucky we are to have those memories.
Sniff. Sniff

Helen Brenna said...

Christie, I sometimes miss the sports with the kids, but definitely not in the same way as the camping!

Deb, no doubt camping isn't for everyone, and I honestly won't miss all the work camping entails. Just the other stuff.

Helen Brenna said...

Oh, PJ. Sounds like we need hugs all around! Those five acres sound beautiful and the time you spent there magical.

I looked all over the place for pics of our camping trips to scan and put up here, but alas I'm not much of a pic taker so we don't have many at all. The memories will have to do!

Helen Brenna said...

You go, Zoesgarden! Ours was a pop-up too. Have fun, and let me know how it goes!

Helen Brenna said...

Cindy, you're so right. Better to have the memories of good times than to have had no good times at all.

Hmm. Isn't there some such saying about loving? lol

Pamela Keener said...

I have a friend who lost her husband in 2000 shortly before my husband died also in 2000. She still has her camper trailer parked in her backyard. It never moves. I don't have the heart to ask her about it and she doesn't say anything either. It isn't a pop up one it is one you tow with a truck. She long since sold the truck because it was parked on the street with the camper and the neighbors complained. I pray looking at that camper brings great memories that perhaps she cannot bear to let go. I am like that too in a way. I love to look back and remember the great times I had & am reluctant to let go when they are not used anymore.
Love & Hugs,

Helen Brenna said...

Oh, Pam, that's a heartbreaking image. I would just love to come over with a truck, hook that puppy up and take her and that camper out camping. Poor honey.

I have a good friend who lost her husband in 2002. She wasn't even 30 at the time. He was only 38. Her story is heart wrenching, but through her I totally get the not wanting to let go part.

Pamela Keener said...

Thanks Helen,
Lets drag her out in that puppy and have a real good time!
Love & Hugs

Pamela Keener said...

We were both mid 40's when we lost our hubbys so we kinda grabbed hold of each other for dear life but it is weird that subject never came up for discussion.
I respect her right to hold onto that if she needs to.