Yay! We’re on vacation!

Published 2:55 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Virginia Beach, Va.—This week I am filing my column via e-mail from a seventh-floor room with a balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

We have flown the coop, so to speak, and left the warm temps and sunshine of South Georgia (oops, perhaps I got that part wrong) for the beaches of the mid Atlantic state of Virginia.

I’m not gloating, however. The weather outside is in the 40s and rain is forecast for the next few days. I don’t think I will be walking the beach, but that’s OK. I came to see my daughter and her family and a certain grandson named Cam. He’s almost 3 years old and he doesn’t care whether the sun shines or not. To tell the truth, neither do I.

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Donna Sue and I are on vacation! We worked hard last week during Holy Week and each had many services on Easter Sunday, so by the time we left Bainbridge in the late afternoon, we were ready for some R and R, as they say.

Vacations are interesting paradoxes. Usually, we work double-time to get all the work done that would make us feel somewhat comfortable to leave the office or the farm. In the back of our minds, we are wondering, “What’s going to happen when I leave.” I think we are all worrywarts and not capable of just simply getting away from it all.

We leave for vacation having worked hard right up to the moment we leave. On top of that, we leave wondering whether it is a good time to leave. In our case, as pastors, we are always thinking of that one who is sick, perhaps in the hospital, or that one who is going through an inordinate struggle and might need to talk.

I’ve come to realize that if I wait until everyone feels good or all things are going well for everyone, I will never take any time away. I’m sure pastors are not the only ones who feel that way. I felt the same way when I was working in business as a director of sales.

I suffered from the “mice will play while the cat is away” syndrome. It wasn’t any easier when I farmed. It seemed like vacation time always came up when it was time to pick the peas or cut the okra. I’m not saying I picked the peas; I didn’t. But, if I wasn’t around, who would do the supervising?

So, just getting away on vacation is a big deal. It’s always been that way for me. Even when I was growing up, our family rarely “planned” a vacation. There was too much to do on the farm. Usually, vacation consisted of two or three days of spontaneous times at a nearby panhandle beach called Wilson’s Beach.

The trip wasn’t planned. It usually came about because the tobacco didn’t ripen. Everything depended on the tobacco. It needed to be hoed, topped and suckered, or gathered. But every now and then, Daddy would come to the house.

He’d say to momma, “It looks like the tobacco is too green to gather this week. If you want to go to the beach, pack some bags.” How’s that for planning. I guess I get it natural.

Donna Sue’s family, on the other hand, was town folks. Her daddy was the postmaster at the Auburn Post Office and they had regularly scheduled vacation time. They went to the beach most every year at a scheduled time and stayed for a “whole” week. Wow!

She tells me that they also went to California, out West, Chicago, Las Vegas and lots of other places that seem so vacationy (I know that’s not a word). Naturally, our views of vacation differ.

We do, however, realize that the time to get away from it all is necessary. This time, we left Bainbridge late in the afternoon and drove for about five hours to Interstate 95 near Savannah. The total mileage for Virginia Beach is about 750 miles and we decided to break the trip into two days or else the 13-hour trip would break us up into two messes.

That’s another thing about vacations. We desire a little rest and relaxation. Right? We work harder than usual so we can get away. Then, sometimes we drive huge amounts of miles to get to where we are going. We find ourselves sleeping in strange beds that tend to make our backs sore. We get off our body’s regular schedules if you know what I mean. Sound pretty restful, so far?

Monday morning was the first day of vacation, but we were facing another 10 hours of driving. How did I rest? Like a baby. I cried all night. At least I got to sleep in. Usually I get up at 5 a.m. Since I was on vacation, I made myself stay in the bed until 6 a.m.!

That’s OK, though. We left Savannah about 9 a.m. and headed for Virginia. We went through South Carolina, North Carolina and into Virginia. I had never been this way before, so I got to see new territory. Once we got into Virginia, we had to look for our turn-off for my daughter’s home.

“Did you bring a map?” Donna Sue asked.

I wonder if she ever reads my column. “Of course not,” I said. “I’m a man and I have an innate sense of direction. We’ll get there with no problem. We’ll just keep going north.”

For the record, at the first time I had a real and independent decision to make, driving-wise, I took the wrong road. Not to worry, though. My son-in-law directed me back to the right way and we only wasted a few minutes. Man to man, we got through it.

Finally, we get to their house and my grandson Cam is waiting on the front stoop. At first he wonders, just who is this man with the outstretched arms going ga-ga. Then his eyes brighten and his smile widens. He recognized his grandpa. Hallelujah, vacation has begun!