Last fall we rented a place in Monteagle, Tennessee to celebrate my bride’s birthday. I’m not divulging her chronology. That could prove my death sentence. But I will say she does not look her age. Must be those daily sips from the fountain of youth.
For several days there was a steady flow of family and friends all there for the single purpose of celebrating Kay. As it should be. Some stayed for a long time. Some dropped by for an hour or two. When I reached the saturation point of the constant flow of humanity, I threw the three grandkids in the back of my car and we took off to the Fiery Gizzard trail.
As my three grandkids are prone to do, they can build up a head of stream of excitement when released into the great outdoors and become, well how can I say this politely…stupid. I guess there are no polite words. It’s the same principal of the mentality of the unruly mob.
I always carry my walking sticks with me when I go on a trek because I’m old and wobbly. As we approached the trailhead I raised my sticks in front of the kids like a gate to stop them from running ahead of me. The north entrance has some steep inclines and drop-offs that can cause serious bodily harm. If one is not paying attention you can take a tumble.
“All right, Kids,” I said. “I give you today’s motto, ‘Death is near/don’t be stupid.’ Now go have fun.” What’s great about my grandkids is that they did not require any interpretation. Our family teams have been on enough trails together in various places on the planet that they get it when the adults offer clear directives. A trio of park rangers was nearby who overheard my instruction and asked if they might use that for future signage. I told them they could have it for free.
Did my admonition spoil the fun? I don’t think so. We tramped for miles, built dams, climbed trees, scaled boulders, and had the contest of who could make the biggest splash in a large pool of water. I won. No way I’m letting my grandkids outdo me.
Now we have a new addition to our slew of family mottos. This one might not rank up there with Solomon’s book of “Proverbs,” but they are words to live by.