For the record, for all of you judging the safety represented in this photo, this Boston Whaler containing my family is within the legal weight limit, and our son, in the green sweatshirt, is wearing his lifejacket beneath his sweatshirt. We are away on vacation visiting my brother and his family on Martha’s Vineyard, and we’ve gone big two days in a row, and it’s taken years off my life. When one is lucky enough to have parents and in laws and siblings and spouses and in laws who get along and choose to vacation together, we count ourselves blessed. Day one was rainy and involved Greg wanting to take the kids fishing in his newly acquired Whaler due to the fact that Carver is obsessed with fishing. There were moments of worry when the boat seemed low in the water to those of us on land (myself, my mom, my sister in law, and her dad). But those kids. Those smiles. Those dads in charge had it all in control. The rain? We hardly noticed. But five kids fishing off of one small boat, someone was bound to get nailed by a hook. But they didn’t. They caught fish big enough to keep and cook and eat together. Family memory made with cousins. Check.
After 40 some odd years, we learned that our dad doesn’t love the water. How did we grow up with an above ground swimming pool and summer trips to Water Country with our dad who did not really like being around water? He does not like water, but loves his kids and grandchildren more than enough to hang out in and around water. A lot!
Fast forward to Day 3 when Auntie Allison and Uncle Brian, who live in London, arrived with Geoff’s parents. Together, we decided an epic day for all generations would be a bike ride from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown on the bike path for lunch and back with a stop off at the Jaws Bridge. Scratch two “MUST DO’s” off our list in one fell swoop: Bike riding and Jaws Bridge jumping. The grandparents are stoked because they love to ride bikes and they know the pace won’t be set by their son/ son in law Geoff; rather the pace will be dictated by the children.
Fourteen round trip miles later, we survived the Martha’s Vineyard bike path to Edgartown; more importantly, the bike path, along with her diverse inhabitants, survived the Ehrman Krill family of 2017. There were the speed walking ladies who refused to move over even just a little so we could pass more safely while cyclists faced us from the other side. There was the roller skating dancing man in his 50’s who used the entire width of the bike path. Our four little children were so distracted by his moves that they drifted into the left part of the lane only to be startled into the reality of the walkers coming from the other direction, by me yelling, screaming hysterically really, “Get to the right, get to the right!” for the 782nd time of the day. There were the serious cyclists, the ice coffee drinking golfers, the other crazy families like ours with tagalong bikes or Burleys or kids with training wheels, and the patient grandparents who waved us along and warned us they were coming with a gentle, “On your left.” Holly, Geoff, and Greg felt the same panicked alarm which rendered me tense, alert, and stressed the entire bike ride. Minus the three minutes it took to jump off the Jaws Bridge with Carver for the first time. That was awesome. Beyond my comfort zone for sure, and my niece Ella’s. But we did it because we were clearly in the mood for making memories. Check.
Our kids were taking in the world around them as we want them to, right? Beautiful boats and lovely homes and sometimes colorfully dressed or eccentric bike path people removed their focus maybe even for just a few seconds, causing them to drift or swerve or scare themselves just in the nick of time. We may have also lost one or two grandparents at different moments on the trail. The first aid kit only came out once for a rough spill on the sandy part of the wooden path we took to avoid busy roads without bike paths, the same place incidentally we may or may not have lost a grandparent or two temporarily.
All of our parents are in their 70’s and their grandchildren proudly report how fun it is when Gram and Pop and Grandma and Grandpa ride bikes with them. Even Daddy who uses a hand cycle rode into town with his wheelchair duck taped to the back of his bike. We pedaled 14 miles, jumped off a bridge, skinned knees, avoided countless collisions and dangerous curbs, located missing grandparents after going rogue, kept children and grands alive, and maybe lost a year or two at the end of life. Memories made. Check.