Memorial Day weekend 2008 BW and I were eating a late lunch at the Cracker Barrel in Effingham, Ill. We had flown to Las Vegas to drive a friend's car home. They winter there and because of health problems had to fly home so we volunteered to go get their car.
Quite frankly that day we had driven from Kansas City, Mo., and I was rather tired. We ordered and began the wait. We always play the game with golf tees and the triangle to see who has the fewest left because the one that has the most has to pay. No matter who pays it comes from the same account but we like the challenge.
As BW was trying to beat me my vision wandered around the restaurant and I noted a family of six sitting near us -- father and mother in their 30s and four children, three little girls and one boy. They seemed to be travelers as we were and they looked like they had been ridden hard and put away wet or shot through an orchard and hit every tree.
Dad looked like he worked construction or some other rough and tumble kind of job. He had an outside face, large muscular hands and shoulders and he was wearing a NASCAR cap with flames on it and a race car. It wasn't turned backward but he still was wearing it inside which gives an insight to his thinking. I perceived that he might be distant and aloof and full of testosterone; all man. I wondered how he behaved with those little girls and wondered if he had any time or inclination for "girly" behaviors.
The little boy was leaning against his mother. She had one arm around him and was listening to him. With her other hand she was patting him serenely as they continued their private conversation. I could not and did not want to hear those most intimate words. The youngest daughter strolled over and crawled up on dad's leg like riding a horse and cuddled to his chest. Her arms weren't even close to being able to reach around him. He put his massive arms around her and hugged her warmly and gently. Then he smoothed her blonde hair with his massive paw and kissed her gently on the cheek and quietly said something to her. That was followed by a giggle and further conversation.
Then the next oldest little girl, perhaps feeling tired and left out sidled over and crawled up on his other leg. She received the same welcome, a large arm extended outward encircled her giving a gentle hug, smoothing of hair and a kiss on the cheek. Then there were two little girls giggling and hugging their dad. Not to be outdone the third and oldest girl joined in the gathering. He said, "I guess I have room for one more" and she sat on the leg with the smallest sister and was hugged and kissed in the same manner his massive arms full of three little girls equally loved.
They left soon and left me with misty eyes and a warm heart.
When the day of days comes for me I pray that the Lord will look at me and say, "I guess I have room for one more."
Larry Vandeventer grew up north of Calvertville, graduated from Worthington High School and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or at 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168 or by phone at (317) 839-7656. He has written five books about his experiences.