“Kid’s, with your Dad, it’s all about the story,” my wife told our army of 4 as we were passing through Lancaster, Pennsylvania. …better known as Amish Country. We had just taking a horse and buggy ride to an Amish farm, and I had told my wife that I wanted our new kitchen table to be made by the Amish. Only a week earlier we had moved to a new house and both Bren and I had decided to get a new kitchen table…and retiring the current oak table to the upstairs game room to serve as Macy’s Arts and Crafts Table. There were already remnants of different paint colors from the previous 11 years of Macy’s art career. “Bren, the work ethic of the Amish….their steadfastness to their beliefs…I want the table we gather around at night to be made by Amish Hands.” The symbolism in that and the story it tells is what it is all about.
The story…the adventures we go on…getting out of the shallow end of the pool and moving to the deeper end…where it’s less safe…but a whole lot more exciting…why?…because of the story.
Bren comes to me this May…in the midst of getting ready to move and says, “I love Pine Cove, but I can’t go back there for the third year in a row.” “The world is a big place and we need show the kids more than just East Texas,” she continued. Then she said,”let’s do something big…like East Coast Big…Like maybe even New York Big.” So she started planning…and purchasing airline tickets…all on top of moving to a new house. When it was all said and done…oh what and Adventure did our family have…all 6 of us…even with Kyle our 2 year old. A lot of people…and I mean a lot…said we were crazy for taking 4 kids on such an outing. But then again…those people probably don’t have much of a story to tell…who wants to hear about living life safely in the kiddie pool?
We take off from DFW and land in Phillie. The plane ride alone was epic for Kyle (age 2). For 3 hours he sat wide eyed…watching out the plane…watching a movie. We land…get our luggage…like a team…everyone grabs an assigned bag….Bren knocks open the stroller…Kyle jumps in…and literally 15 seconds after our bags hit we are on the curb and Macy age11) has already hailed the courtesy van to pick up the rental car. I had a stranger come up to me and say, “Sir, you have one incredible family and a well oiled machine.” I thanked him…and we moved on. I check out the Rental Family van…gave the rally sign to Bren and the kids waiting inside…and within 2 minutes Luke had the van loaded and ready to go while I was getting last minute details from the rental place. The gentleman looked at me, grinned…and said, “wow, you haven’t said a word and your kids are loaded and ready to go!”
For the next 8 days my kids experienced some incredible things…fun things like Hershey Park….different things like Amish Country…historic things like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Betsy Ross’ house. Things just for the sake of telling the story…of Running up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum like Rock Balboa did. We ate in an Irish Pub after a day a Jersey beach …because we heard that it was a well kept secret of great food and service…and it was. We knocked out another 2 MLB ball parks…the Phillies and the Mets. NYNY was all inspiring for Macy and Hope…Times Square with all the lights and people and energy. The first night, I told Bren I wanted to go back to the hotel…so did Luke and we needed to get Kyle to bed…after all it was a 14 hour day…and his eyes had been as big as saucers the entire day. Bren said great…we will have a girl’s night out…Bren, Macy and Hope (age 8). They told me they went till midnight in the Big Apple. The next morning Macy tells me the story of going to Juniors and ordering NY style Pizza…and leaving the restaurant with lots more than they could eat. They asked to have it boxed up to take back to our hotel and while meandering around times square my girls decided to give what was left to a homeless man. I bet that is a story they will tell for the rest of their lives…because it was the first story Macy told me the next morning.
Let me tell what I would love. 15 years from now…Team Elliott is sitting around the table and someone pops up, “Remember how we took the subway from Ground Zero to Macy’s and there were so many people packed on the train…and Luke was separated from all of us…that Dad yelled out in his Texas Accent ,”LUKE ELLIOTT! NEXT STOP!” …and everyone got real quiet. Or remember the time Kyle made friends with the NYPD mounted police…and they gave Kyle one of his patches. Or what about the time where Buddy the Cake Boss’ mom came out to meet us and we had our picture with her and she just loved Kyle’s Cowboy boots. There was so much we did…so many things we saw…and the stories…oh the stories.
Somewhere in the middle of all that, Bren looks at me and said, “I just learned Robin Williams has died.” I look dumbfounded….I cannot believe it…because I know he wasn’t that old. Then the details came out…suicide…fighting depression. I begin to tell my kids about my favorite movie that He starred in…”Dead Poets Society” How he turned the Latin phrase “Carpe Diem” into a pop culture cliché….but that is so much more to me…”Seize the Day!” I tell them of how he was brilliant funny…fast…hard to keep up with …and downright hilarious. Robin Williams had demons that we may never know…but I know that his time was cut too short…because I know he still had stories to tell…many of them ROFL funny. And I also know that part of his Life’s story was all about that movie I saw in High School…where he tells the New England Prep school students to take hold of the day…grab it and live…because we are not promised tomorrow…because we have a story to tell…and have stories of our lives…because it really it about our story!
** After the death of Robin, it reminded me how precious life is…and how uncertain things are. I also was reminded that sometime the funniest people are fighting battles that we will never know. I plead with you…I beg you…if you are struggling with depression…or any other unmentionable demons, please find help…seek it out. And if you know someone fighting such battles….walk through hell to make sure they do not isolate themselves.