As the lights blinked on in the laundry room, her gaze landed on the cracked plastic frame holding an old photo and a weathered postcard. It had been the first for Lauren of their family vacations to Lake Mille Lacs in Northern Minnesota. Lauren on the beach, twenty-five years ago. It had been a frustrating day, a simple day, a life-changing day.....
The beach beckoned. There it was. She could see it, but would they ever reach it? It was a short walk from the rustic cabin; a curved path and about ten steps, a brief distance had she been unencumbered. She was, however, heavy laden. A fold-out chair and a large backpack covered with a blanket clung to her. On either side of her waddled a one-year-old toddler and an eighty-year-old mother-in-law.
She scooped Lauren into her right arm, moved the chair up around her left shoulder and grabbed Pella's arm firmly with her hand. Ok, maybe a turtle's pace was slow, but an improvement over the snail's.
"Some vacation," she muttered under her breath. The guys awoke at the crack of dawn and would be sunning and casting all day long. Sighing, she struggled to hold on to the squirming Lauren. Pella stopped short. She had trouble seeing the form of the steps. At least they had made it to the steps!
Her heart seemed to shrink suddenly. She had left the picnic basket at the cabin. Tears welled in her eyes. She had only water and crackers in the backpack. There was no way to go back now. With a moan, she moved the group slowly down the next step.
Two limber teenagers hopped quickly around them, running and laughing into the water ahead. Honestly, it had taken them no more than ten seconds to get there. Incredible! Had she ever been that young and carefree? The backpack was nothing compared to the weight in her heart these days.
Finally the last step. They moved a few more steps and she lowered Lauren to the sand, twisted to remove the chair, pulled it out for Pella and gently lowered her onto the seat.
Sighing wearily once again, she laid down the blanket and wondered about lunch.
Pella reached over and touched her shoulder.
"You're missing it," she said.
"What? Missing what?" Linnea answered.
"Missing the moment."
"Mom, what are you talking about? Is the sun too hot? I'm wondering if we need to head back early to the cabin. I forgot the picnic basket with our lunch. Although I can't imagine how I could have managed to carry anything else."
"Honey, don't worry so much. I remember how it feels to be a young mom. Your work is never done. But stop now. Smell the fresh breeze. Look at your precious daughter. Etch this in your mind forever."
Linnea turned and looked at Pella, so frail, so weak. Her head was raised to the sun, eyes closed with a smile on her face.
There was a sudden shift in the atmosphere.
"Mom, was it hard for you too?" she asked softly.
"Oh I'm sure it was dear. I know there were many days when I would crumble into bed, wondering how I could begin again tomorrow. But you know, today, it all seems like a blessing. Those wild boys turned into fine young men. And now I treasure the memories of those days. I wish I had stopped more often to memorize the details, the sights and sounds. It all goes so very fast."
The self pity evaporated into the warm breeze. The crackers and water seemed sufficient as the sun shone on the three of them for the next few hours. Lauren fell instantly in love with the beach and the picture taken would become a favorite. Chubby legs, naked upper body, droopy diaper and a big pair of sunglassses. Nothing seemed to bother the curly neaded girl with the shovel in her hand and the goofy grin on her face as she looked down at her adorable little girl.....
The heavy laundry basket suddenly felt light. She traced the shape of Lauren over the plastic frame and headed outside. She lowered the basket and lifted her head to the sun. With a smile on her face, she knew what she needed to say to Lauren, the overwhelmed mom of a toddler.
"Her children rise up and call her blessed."
Proverbs 31:28 (NKJV)
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