A Sense of Adventure - A Tribute to My Parents

(The Wallsburg school. This building, built in 1904, was our home for ten years. It's been abandoned again for many years and is sadly falling apart. It was for sale a year or so ago and we excitedly thought about buying it again, until we discovered from the realtor that it was selling for $800,000.)

Yesterday, my parents celebrated their 48th anniversary. (I'd intended to write something about them yesterday, but then a Ford F150 pulled in front of us and my day changed.) But as great as 48 years of marriage is, that's only a small part of what makes my parents impressive.

I could tell you about what great examples they are, about their mission, about years of church service, about hard work and sacrifice and patience. I could even tell you about a few times when they showed their human side and lost their cool or severely over-grounded one of their kids, or got carried away at a basketball game.

But instead, I'll tell you about their sense of adventure. There are those who would say they showed their adventurous side by having eleven children. I think this is true, but imagine taking those eleven children on a road trip. Dad and Mom did that every summer. While we didn't have a lot of money, they wanted their kids to see and experience as much as possible. We traveled all over the United States. Mom made sandwiches and we had contests to see who could make an oreo last the longest. We played games and fought and sang songs. But we played in the ocean, we saw big cities, and beautiful barns. We traveled winding mountain roads and drove through hundreds of miles of plains. We went to National Parks and saw rock formations and State Parks where civil war battles had been fought.

Dad and Mom's sense of adventure carried over into everyday life. When I was six years old, they bought an old, abandoned schoolhouse in Wallsburg. I was scared when I first walked inside--the windows were broken out and the floors were covered with three or four inches of dead hornets, flies and broken glass. They transformed that scary, abandoned building into a home. They cleaned up the filth to reveal hardwood floors, tore down plaster to the beautiful brick underneath, put in walls to create bedrooms. It became a beautiful place with only one hallway that led to the underground storage room that continued to be scary.

We had a gymnasium and a stage. We had bats that flew above our heads as we fell asleep some nights. I had a bedroom that had been a library with bookshelves from floor to 12-foot ceiling. We had an enormous (and dangerous) slide until Dad and Mom "donated" it to the city park. It was an amazing house for kids to grow up in.

At the time I didn't realize how unusual my parents were. I didn't realize that there were parents who didn't take their kids on long family vacations. I didn't realize that there were parents who wouldn't even know how to begin a challenge like turning an old schoolhouse into a home. I took them for granted.

But of all the valuable things my parents gave me, today I'm thankful for their adventurous spirit. It helps remind me that I can do hard things, that I can look at things differently, that its okay to try something unexpected.

Happy Anniversary, Dad and Mom. I love you and I'm so thankful that you're my parents!


Vea McDonald said...

Bravo!!! I think some of that adventurous spirit drifted my way. I believe I was heavily influenced by my uncles and aunts, not the least of which were your parents. What great people they are. Happy Anniversary to my Uncle Lynn and Aunt Karen.

Mindy said...

I SO wish I could see that old schoolhouse... especially how it was when it was your home. I love stuff like that!

Jessie said...

Oh, how I remember running around in that old school. I also remember the day you left the water running in the kitchen sink and the water was so deep that you couldn't put your hand in and pull the plug. Water spilled everywhere. I'm not sure how you finally got through it. I also remember you and Richard running down the road from your home to catch the bus for school. What memories this blog has brought back. Can you believe I have actually had dreams through the years about your home? What an impression your home had on all of us.

Christie said...

You really ought to connect with my father-in-law. He is writing (or may have finished already) a history on Wallsburg. His blog is www.heritageassociates.blogspot.com. He writes histories for a living and I'll bet your parents would LOVE to see his book.

Travelin'Oma said...

Hi, I'm Christie's mother-in-law, and my husband Dee wrote a history of Wallsburg several years ago. He loves that place and those old buildings, and we've spent lots of time there exploring and interviewing.

What awesome parents you must have! I'm excited to connect with you through the blogosphere.

Lisa said...

why on earth would a posting about my parents' adventurous spirit bring me to tears?! i guess because it is just one small indicator of who they are. and they are amazing people. we have ALL taken them for granted.

Karey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Karey. I have tons of great memories from the ole school house. It was always exciting as a kid when we would come there, because we lived in the city and you lived in the country. I remember my dad was always the most excited about our trips there, especially when he knew he was going to do a magic show in the gym. Of course I still have the 8mm evidence between Richard and Cowboy. Lol. I could go on and on. Our trips with you, Richard and Marty into Salt Lake City. Good times.


Leslie said...

wow... tonight has already been an emotional night for me. so this just made me happy.

you and lisa are right... we have all totally taken mom and dad for granted. i sure wish i had been old enough to remember living in the schoolhouse. i was born when we lived there, but we moved away when i was just two... and i have always been jealous of all of you older kids who get to remember life there.

oh how i wish we could all somehow, someway buy that schoolhouse back for mom and dad. it would be the ultimate gift to give them in this life.

we have amazing parents. i only wish i can be half as great as them someday.

love you mom and dad.

thanks karey.

Tawnie said...

What great memories. It's fun for us to drive up there every so often and tour the place. So sad that it is so run down.
You've got GREAT parents.
I love them like crazy.

Becky Darling said...

What a great tribute Karey!!! My mom and dad's 43rd anniversary was yesterday and I feel like we had a similar childhood (We only had 8 kids though!!!)

Leslie said...

this goes along perfectly with your posting about Mother Who Know.

"Not all will follow the map [Heavenly Father has given us]. They may look at it. They may think it is reasonable, perhaps even true. But they do not follow the divine directions. Many believe that any road will take them to a 'happily ever after.' Some may even become angry when others who know the way try to help and tell them. They suppose that such advice is outdated, irrelevant, out of touch with modern life."Sisters, they suppose wrong."

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Your Happily Ever After," Ensign, May 2010, 127

TheKeeleDeal said...

That's awesome you lived in the school for a short time. I grew up in Wallsburg its such a great little town. Interesting side note the School is for sale again.