It’s been a hard pill to swallow.
I was supposed to be on the slopes of Mt. Rainier this week. My transient, homeless parents (they’ve lived in their RV for over 20 years), spend the summer in Washington state. We usually take off in late August, like the rest of DC, & find an Airbnb near where they park their rig. We rally for an early morning flight from Dulles out to Seattle & then usually 2-3 hours driving to meet up & stay for the week. The 1st days are filled with jet-lagged kids, but grandma has a way with her fresh berry pies of making the kids forget their drooping eyelids, snuggle up & enjoy hugs that have been stored up for the past year.
There’s nothing like summer in the Northwest.
I spent a lot of summers there as a kid; my parents were public school teachers, so we traveled every summer in our RV. It was a pretty awesome way to grow up, in retrospect. I’ve literally seen most of the 50 states, practically every major national park, forests & BLM land. My parents would spice up our learning with a big box of books (my dad was an English teacher so I was reading To Kill a Mockingbird in 6th grade) & my personal favorite, tracking our weekly expenditures, making a contest of how little we could spend each week. My job was to track the gas mileage. On touring days, we’d get less miles to the gallon. On travel days, it would be more. Practical math at its finest.
Nature has always been in my blood.
My first summer after my freshman year in PT school, I took a job working for a Concession company at Mt. Rainier. Achiever that I am, I earned the role of Lead Housekeeper at the Paradise Inn, 6000 feet perched on the south side of the mountain. Every day I’d clean toilets, shine brass & make beds in the shadow of the most breathtaking alpine scenery. (Never mind at the time the Inn was crooked & rapidly shifting downhill under the weight of the annual snow-pack, or that hikers were only good tippers if they had reached the summit, definitely not if they hadn’t.) Living in a National Park for almost 4 months, I got to know the mountain well. She definitely had her pristine blue-bird days & others were heavy, damp & cold. It’s continued to hold a special place in my heart & I’ve been able to return a few times in the past 20 years.
I was so excited.
I was looking forward to sharing the mountain with my kids this summer. COVID had other plans. My son and dad have asthma. Spending 6 hours on a plane & then diving into tight co-habitation with my parents was exactly the opposite of what my mom & I had in mind for a relaxing family vacation. We made the decision early on to delay the trip out of concern for safety, but it doesn’t sting any less sitting here, 3000 miles from my family who we haven’t seen in a year. My parents continue to get older, my dad already battling Parkinson’s Disease for nearly 20 years. Missing a year isn’t a small thing anymore.
Plans keep changing.
I know there’s a lot of things we’d all hoped to do this year; people we wanted to see, things we wanted to accomplish & places we wanted to visit. I have to keep believing we will get there again. I keep reminding myself it’s ok to dial back the goals, shore up the plans & take it down a notch. What has seemed like forever will be in the rear-view mirror soon enough. Until then, I remind myself to keep moving to stay healthy, look to next summer & keep my chin up. I figure if I share my advice with you, I have to listen to it too! (I’m a professional, you have to listen!)
We can do this.
Heading into the school year, is daunting for all of us. I wish you the best of luck in guiding your kids, keeping sane & staying safe.
Reply to this email if I can be of any help with your health & self-care along the way. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon, but I look forward to the newsletter when I get to share my long-awaited trip to Rainier with my family.