Flexible family life

Family life assumes flexibility.
Just when my husband and I anticipated a few days alone, the Sherwood family took turns coming down with a lingering fever and listlessness. I could hear the onset of the illness in my daughter’s voice so I volunteered to house her pre-schooler for a couple days.
Well – that is I volunteered my retired husband. He dropped everything and went to get the lad. They had a grand time playing and watching movies during the day and I read books to the child in the evening.
Then the Texas granddaughters’ mother wondered if we would house her three for Halloween. I bought another sack of candy and mentally began checking my food supplies for teenagers — only to change all my plans when a former co-worker offered five passes to Magic Springs. Using those five tickets to entertain three girls appealed to me much more than traipsing the dark streets on Halloween.
I made up candy packages for the girls and sent the rest along when my husband took our grandson home for his church’s fall festival. Between Sherwood, Texas and El Dorado, my chauffeur drove all day Friday. Saturday we rose early and headed to Magic Springs for a day of rides.
I lost interest in theme park rides after my young at heart guy insisted on rocking the Ferris Wheel gondola back and forth. I like stability. Standing on the ground, watching others ride provides a lot of stability and I can hold the camera, eye glasses and other loose items.
But not my husband. He embraces theme park rides, pumping them for every thrill he can garner. He spun the wheel so vigorously during the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cup ride 28 years ago that our tjunior in high school staggered as he left the ride.
So he looked forward to the thrills at Magic Springs. Entering as the gates opened, we enjoyed a long afternoon of no-waiting access to all the rides.
I snapped shots of Grandpa and granddaughters on the swinging pirate’s ship before I decided to ride a few myself.

For the first time in years, I threw caution to the wind and rode a couple of the park’s many roller coaster rides. Round the corners the cars whipped, shifting me back and forth, up and down. I felt my back tense and my neck grow rigid as it anticipated and resisted the turns. I did not feel very flexible. No, I felt on the verge of a back ache or a stiff neck. I happily walked away pain free.

My husband jovially joined the girls on the upside-down rides that threw him around like a yo-yo being twirled over a kid’s head. He sat on the edge of the tower that plunged him down and jerked him up abruptly without warning. He ignored all the signs cautioning away those with blood pressure problems. He would have his fun, exhibit his flexibility and youthfulness.
Midday, the youngest child and I chose the simplicity of the swan seat on the carousel. He insisted on a painted steed. She joined me in the non-riders’ section when the others took the Arkansas Twister roller coaster the first time. The next time, she lined up to join them.

She got in the car, looked at the steep mountain path in front of her, shivered and got out of the car.
They begged her to join them. She climbed in. She climbed out.
They assured her it was fun. She got in. She looked. She got out and moved back with me.

I kind of wanted to ride, but I stayed with her.
Grandpa joined the trio for the log ride that ends with a 50 feet spray of water. I skipped the ride because I take no pleasure in walking around in wet clothes. I do, however, take pleasure in the great shot I snapped of the spray of water as their boat hit the pool at the bottom.

Our no-fear granddaughter rode the Gauntlet with Grandpa the first time while the rest of us watched. The ride provides 45 seconds of upside down twirling and centrifugal force at 65 mph. That’s when my husband realized, “Why am I doing this? I don’t have to do this anymore.” When she insisted on one more Gauntlet ride before we left that day, he watched — his flexibility for the day spent.

After a week of changing plans, an afternoon of cruising and bruising, he acknowledged the difference between a flexible schedule and a flexible body. No longer 17 and looking at 70 in a couple months, I’d say, it’s about time to he realized that.

I’m not holding my breath that he will remember it.
(So very much, not a flexible 17 year-old, Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. E-mail her at joanh@everybody.org)