Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)
TITLE: Enjoying the Ride
By Margaret Gass
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We then moved forward again and the young man made some adjustment to the car. We proceeded back up, approximately two cars above where we had been. The wheel stopped, and moved forward again. The attendant hit the lever once more, and back up we went, one car above where we had been, when once again the wheel stopped...and this time, we did not move immediately back down. Instead, we rocked back and forth as Mom continued to say we were having fun and Dad leaned forward to see what the attendant was doing. The attendant was talking into a radio. My sister began to cry, other passengers started to complain, and I just held my dad’s hand. The car suddenly moved down and forward. This time, however, the young man undid the latch, apologized, and said that one of us would have to get off the ride--our car was putting the whole wheel out of balance.
Mom volunteered, insisting that both my sister and I stay--so after placing my dad in the middle of the seat and re-latching the door, we once again moved back and up…this time, though, we completed an entire revolution. As we passed the attendant, he increased the speed, and we continued--back, up, forward, down--over and over again. We watched for Mom, who in turn watched us, until the car stopped at the top of the ride. I looked out, across the Puyallup fairgrounds, to avoid looking down. Dad pointed out Grandma’s house in an effort to distract my sister, who had noticed that Mom was gone. We made another loop before we spotted her--buying a huge, caramel-coated apple dipped in nuts. Of course, this meant that we, too, “needed” a treat, and once we got down upon solid ground my dad went in search of a vendor. He wasn’t gone long. I don’t remember what else we did that day--I was, after all, just four at the time.
I do remember that it was the last time we did anything as a family. Not long after, my dad left, after some scary moments I’d rather not remember. Riding the Ferris wheel became a tradition for us, in spite of my sister’s growing fear of heights, to please Mom. For a few years, my sister and I also tried new rides for Dad, who took us to Oaks Park every time he visited, which wasn’t very often, after first bringing us each a pack of gum--Juicy Fruit for me, and Wrigley’s Spearmint for my sister. Like that first Ferris wheel ride, our relationship with Dad was out of balance, a rough, up and down ride which stopped way too soon.
We didn’t see or hear from our dad again until I graduated from high school. Both of us had trust issues, though we didn’t know it then. We were both fearful, though we masked our fear in different ways. She climbed trees, rode bikes, went out for gymnastics, and took on the world; I retreated into a world of books, where I knew no physical limitations and anything was possible.
I accepted Christ in early 1982, but it was years before I overcame my fears and stopped riding the ups and downs of my emotions. To do so, I needed to do what I had done on that Ferris wheel so long ago: I needed to hold onto my Father’s hand, look out, and enjoy the ride. It’s easier to do now, as I’ve “proved Him o’er and o’er,” as the old hymn says. At age thirty-two, I rode my first roller coaster…hands up in the air, and laughing all the way down! My hands remain in His.
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