On Monday night, my last night with my dad in the old house in Boquete, he came into my room and handed me a bunch of pictures. This one was at the top. In 1995, Sherod began a DMin program in Chicago. For that year and the following three years, he was going to be in Chicago for six weeks each summer. I worked at FedEx and did not have anything near that much time off. We discussed whether or not I’d come see him. It all felt awkward—he’d be studying, in his groove, and somehow, it seemed important for him to do what he needed to do those six weeks without the ‘little wife’ getting in the way. When I look back on those years, I was still way more dependent on Sherod than was probably healthy and scared to death of not seeing him for 6 weeks. I was also jealous that he got to do that cool thing while I worked through the summer.
It is the first time I ever asked myself really clearly how I could use a chunk of time to step out on my own to do something fun. After a lifetime hearing (and internalizing) what I wasn’t capable of, I wanted to try something that pushed on me. My brother had sailed a lot when we were teenagers and I’d always been told I shouldn’t because of my hip. The one time I went out with Hans on his Sunfish, I got tangled in the lines when we came about and fell in Lago Calima and was drug along swallowing copious amounts of water. So, in the summer of 1995 I decided to give sailing another chance. I enrolled in a weeklong sailing course with a program called Womanship that had as its motto, “We Don’t Yell” and met the two instructors and 5 other women in Fort Myers. We sailed up to the area around Boca Grande and Gasparilla. It was glorious.
When Sherod got back from Chicago, we ended up buying our first, trailerable sailboat, Los Locos, that we took with us to Florida in 1996. A couple of years and promotions later, we bought our Hunter, Promise. Some of the very best times in our marriage were spent on our sailboats.
My dad told me this is his favorite picture of me which really moved me. Our time together this past week was sweet, very sad and productive: he is ready for the move. I am back home in Alabama, ready to get on with my own life. In some ways, this summer reminds me of the summer of ’95. I laughed when I saw the picture because those clip-on sunglasses were so dorky and because my hair was so dark then—it’s so gray now. It was good to see that the work of getting stronger and trying to be more true to who God made me to be began a long time ago. There’s more to do. That person in the picture? I’m glad it’s still who I am.