I have been enjoying this last month of summer. Last week, a friend and I were kayaking and camping in the Manistee area. The last day of our trip, we were hiking the Manistee River Trail. As we were taking a lunch break of gorp and an apple overlooking the river, I was in a reflective mood.
I really enjoy kayaking. Canoeing – not so much. Please understand that I’m not someone who has done extensive wilderness kayaking. I don’t shoot the rapids, or roll the kayak. I simply paddle along lakes and rivers and am happy. A strong headwind is all the challenge I want. But I find kayaks to be easier and more enjoyable to negotiate than canoes.
As I was sitting over the lookout, I thought of canoe trips of the past. Mostly from high school youth groups and every single one of them I got tipped. Either by someone else, or (even worse) by myself. One particular trip came to mind and I shared it with my friend.
It was one of those high school youth trips, and for some reason I didn’t have a canoe partner, so I was in a canoe with two of the boys from our church. They were paddling and I was in the middle. It was a good trip and good company. A couple of portages, but all in all a leisurely afternoon. We came around a corner where cattails had grown thick. Lurking among them were a couple of other guys from our group. After we passed them, they shot out in hot pursuit.
Dave and Gary started paddling for all they were worth and was outrunning them when the others called out, “We’re not going to tip you! We’re just going to throw Donna in!” At that information, my friends (if that’s what you want to call them) stopped paddling. I threatened them with tipping the canoe and they started paddling with the blades sideways, cutting through the water, rather than actually paddling in a way that would propel the canoe forward. By that time, the other canoe had pulled alongside.
I was not going to go easily. My limbs were akimbo. The boys would pull one arm out and my other would wrap around a thwart. They’d get that arm and I’d have a leg wrapped around. I was proving to be more of a challenge than they had planned, so they came up with a new plan in which they would all get into one canoe and sink the one I was in. There they were, gleefully lined up in a row when they flipped the canoe I was in.
But I had the last laugh. As I was going over, I saw all four of them throw back their heads in laughter, which unbalanced their canoe. Their faces changed from glee to shock as they flipped themselves.
The sweetest revenge. Totally worth it.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.