Family Glamping, A Lesson in Love


I had an extraordinary day yesterday. Did you? And I can hardly wait to tell you what happened. You be the judge.

Here in America, the Labor Day holiday weekend is an end of summer opportunity to reflect and make observations about past and future. Lessons always surround us when we watch, listen and learn. That proved to be so true for me yesterday. Here’s how it happened.

We go through phases and stages in life where it seems like stuff is just rolling downhill faster than we can keep up. So I needed a break. A pause to savor life’s beauties, feel the joys of each moment and relish my ‘happy’. I spent most of the summer getting healthy, and figuring out the next phase in my life post cancer. I also had some heartache and disappointments, don’t we all?

A time of mindfulness, dance, watching sunsets and listening to rapids. A summer of promises made- some met, some not, some hurt, some joy. Best ever, notably the day I learned I am finally cancer free, with unmet life yet to be fulfilled. Still here, giving new promise to my legacy. Let’s start with a lesson in love.

My kids created an end of summer family weekend activity. It was tough to plan for camping with unexpected road closures, questionable day to day air quality from the wildfires and restricted burning, which meant no marshmallow campfires. (Overcome by a last minute switch to propane).

My son- in- law and daughter always crafty and the best planners ever, overcame all obstacles presented. And pulled off a magical family Glamping experience.

I just didn’t want to go for three days when I had so much to do, so I volunteeered to dog-sit Charlie, their little Griffonshire who looks like a Gremlin. I never missed a family holiday weekend outing before, and my kids were upset. Morgan was devastated. Morgan, now seven, is about to start school. How could I miss what were sure to be magical camping ‘aha’ moments? Family first. A lesson in love.

So yesterday, Sunday, spontaneous for me, I packed up a couple towels, made a picnic lunch, grabbed a friend to go for the fun. Grand idea. Friend part. Oh boy. A lesson in the beautiful journey of love.

The thing about writing my Memoirs is I need a happy ending. So don’t tell anybody, but I texted my daughter and asked whether i could bring a pretty new guy friend with me. I am always especially careful, as a widow, to be sensitive to Morgan’s feelings. You know what I mean. Anyway, the guy is a Goober like me, really fun and I figured he could handle it. And this is just a tiny piece of my very large, loving close-knit family. A lesson in love.

The Glamper camp scene, very Griswoldian, but not really, was so awesome! Without campfire permitted, TJ and Rebecca set up the campsite complete with disc golf, games, cooking stoves, etc. Daddy made up a new tackle box for Morgan’s fishing equipment, and had already replaced her Barbie fishing pole with a big girl one, purple, of course.

Before the trip, TJ and I shopped with Morgan and picked up very cool, comfy inflatable bed and set-ups for their oversize family tent. I could have fit in, but nah, kind of feh category for sleeping bag these days, but for the day pass visit, tent life yesterday was heck of fun!

The campground was sheer wonder to Morgan. She got to fish with Mom and Dad, watch horseshoe games, BBQ and roast marshmallows, made a new friend, played pool in the clubhouse. Morgan is a hustler. She learned to play pool this summer at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club. Between us, not sure who was the worst player. Didn’t matter. Non-competitive.

Back to the tent: Imagine a big one, with floor covered with matting, loads of sleeping bags, pillows and blankets on large air beds. Glamping at its finest! Morgan brought her Baby Alive Doll, small dolls, Barbies, couple Kens, new Jo Jo doll, usual hair bows, books, her Kindle, everything in the little monogrammed pink suitcase I gave her a couple years ago when she was still little.

I heard Morgan was waking up about 5 a.m. as a camper, so good thing I wasn’t sleeping there. And Morgan will tell you she definitely doesn’t believe in napping. Kid code. So of course as it got stuffy and warmer in that tent, I was ready for a little snooze, not to be had.

But there were a couple of really big life lessons destined to be for me which I’m sharing with you now.

When she first saw me arrive she yelled “Nana”! Then she met my friend and said “Keep him”, Nana, and hung on him like her new best friend. I couldn’t believe it.

Always a risk taker I didn’t know how it would go, my brand new suitor meeting my family, even as a friend, I certainly didn’t know how Morgan would act. Not into drama, I should have just trusted my instincts, everything was just fine. A lesson in love.

Morgan told me “not to mess it up”, although I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. In the clubhhouse she turned on the little old t.v., pulled a chair over, told me to sit and proceeded to talk to my friend about me. I heard her tell him I spill all over myself (true), I need naps (true), I am tired all the time (right Barbies gets exhausting), and that I snore. (Also true, maybe a snort, too).

And more. Morgan told my friend, his name is Robin, how to set up a fancy date night with me, how I act and that I am lonely. That was a corker. So I had to move us back to the campsite, into safer territory, or so I thought. Life lesson in love, taught by a seven year old. She said “He’s a keeper nana!”.

Back at the campsite in the tent, here we were, three of us, comfy, playing with the dolls, dramatic play amidst the beautiful natural lake environment. Morgan gave her love freely, shared her three day camping experience, taught us how to be in nature, as she knows it, offered gigantic smiles, stories of a new little friend, eating s’mores and sleeping in a big tent with Mommy and Daddy.

By late afternoon, I was indeed content. We joined my family for a magical outdoor experience in its simplest form. Camping anywhere, backyard, in nature, in a den or bedroom is such a grand way for families to turn off electronics and re-connect with one another. However, nothing beats Mother nature. A lesson in mama love.

Outdoor camping meant figuring out which critter got into the tent to nibble and leave crumbs and messes. Share often told campfire stories, eat hot dogs and chips, maybe cookies, not just Gluten free. Experiencing the campground showers, miniature golf, disc golf, such simple pleasures. That’s what my family got to enjoy this weekend.

Families first, always. Together time, like the way it used to be. Before life got so hectic and unsteady, families sharing a quiet time of mindfulness. By listening to breezes, singing old long forgotten camp songs, families transition from one season to the next, sharing a lesson in love, trust, bonding and hope.

As school bells ring, hoping your last summer adventures, on the lake, in the library, at a campsite, carry happy thoughts and simple pleasures throughout your days of many blessings and family, schoolhouse and workplace love.

Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita

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