When I was thirteen, my family backpacked to the base of Hyndman Peak for 4th of July Weekend. We all had to carry a pack, and Mom and I were not, er... prepared. We huffed and puffed up the mountain until we were spent beyond my imagination. Daddy felt so bad for us. He apologized over and over again for our having to carry those packs.
We arrived to our campsite and had a lovely weekend, exploring at the base of the mountain (Mom and me) and climbing to the summit (everyone else). One of my brothers and my sister weren't able to come on the first day because of their schedules, so one of the days, Dad hiked back out to get them.
On the actual 4th of July, our family friend, Ed, hiked to our campsite to spend the day with us. We sat around the campfire when he arrived and complained to him about our big, dramatic hike in with our giant packs. I'll never forget how he burst out laughing as he sputtered, "Well, who brought that big coffee pot?!"
We all fell silent as our eyes rested on the heavy, steel coffee pot leaning against the rocks surrounding the fire. Ed's laughter died awkwardly away as he realized we weren't laughing with him, but he had to clear his throat for quite a while to stave off the giggles.
At the end of our camping trip, we walked back out with our heavy packs and our moans of dread. But we'd descended only a couple of miles when we came to a bit of underbrush and discovered what looked exactly like our very own wheelbarrow tucked into a bush. As my mind struggled to process the wheelbarrow's presence out in the middle of the wilderness, my brother threw off his pack and said, "There! Now you know! When Dad came out to get us, he felt so bad about your heavy packs that he made us push this stupid wheelbarrow all the way up the trail! But you have to push it back down!"
Mom and I collapsed on the ground, laughing with relief and gratitude and giddy exhaustion. I could just picture my brother shoving the empty wheelbarrow up the trail ahead of himself, brows knit together in consternation over the sheer ridiculousness of the situation. But he did it. Even though we were ridiculous, my brother and sister, at Daddy's request, literally heaved grace up the mountain to us.
What a beautiful, tangible expression of Daddy's affection, compassion, tenderness, gentleness, and love for Mom and me.
We all piled our backpacks into that wheelbarrow and took turns balancing it as it rolled by itself down the trail to our van. After everything was loaded into the van for the drive home, I wrapped my arms around Daddy's waist and said, "Thank you for the wheelbarrow."
He squeezed me tight and whispered into my hair, "You're welcome, Princess. I love you."
I love you too, Daddy.