For most of my life I have spent Memorial Day at Compass Lake. As a toddler, I spent the time around my great-grandparents, grandparents and parents. Now I spend time around my own children and grandchildren. It is never the same.
Tropical Storm Alberto decided to visit this year, leaving a little over four inches of rain on Sunday and Monday. That meant that we had to cram as much tubing into the first two days as possible since the rain was always on the horizon. I pulled my grandchildren every time they asked, though I would limit the time to an hour each time. I would not be able to get out of bed if I had been riding that tube like they did.
By Sunday afternoon, the rain had arrived and we played games and binge watched “I Love Lucy” and “The Andy Griffin Show”. At times the rain was blowing so hard you could not even sit on the porch. All three generations gathered together in one room for hours on end. That alone made the holiday special.
I decided to take three grandchildren and a friend to Walmart one afternoon to get new ski vests. What was I thinking? They all put on their vests in the store and wore them the entire visit. People looked at me with a somewhat sympathic smile, as if they were saying “I bet he doesn’t do that again”.
I agreed they could get one thing of candy on the way out. When I saw the container go by the cashier, I was astounded at the size of the package holding something called Twizzlers. I do not exactly know what they are made of besides sugar and gelatin.
Of course, food is always part of a visit to Compass Lake, particularly on big holidays. The two refrigerators were filled to capacity with all the basic food groups, basically chicken, bacon, pork chops, hamburgers, steaks and ribs. Memorial Day at Compass Lake is not a place for vegetarians.
When kids swim, kayak, and tube all day long, their appetites seem to double or triple. It is a joy to watch them eat everything you put before them and then top it off with homemade ice cream.
All this activity and eating naturally leads to a nap. Couches and hammocks are the locations of choice, though snoozes sneak up on you in all sorts of places at the lake.
There is one thing that has never changed on Memorial Day at the lake. We always have a discussion at mealtime about what Memorial Day means and why the remembrance of those who fought and died for our country is so important. Children learn by watching adults, and this is one of those teachable moments.
We celebrate as a family year after year on Memorial Day because of the brave and selfless actions of so many who have gone before us. They fought for the freedom that we enjoy and, unfortunately, take for granted much too often.
To all those heroes that gave their lives for the freedoms of this country, I say Thank You both as a part of a grateful nation and as an individual who gets to enjoy those freedoms every day. You will always be remembered.
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]