FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: MDW


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by Dave Markwell

I love Memorial Day weekend!! I really, really love it. As soon as Labor Day weekend ends, I look forward to this weekend. MDW is the official start of my summer. It represents a change in the weather (hopefully) and certainly a change in my spirit.

Summer is my time of year. It just feels just feels natural to me. I am most comfortable in shorts and flip flops. I hate short days and drizzle. I like the early morning sun and I like a late sunset. I like the smells of BBQ and fresh cut grass. They bring me peace. They bring me home. I like it all. MDW is always the kick off.

For twenty-plus years, on this weekend, I have traveled to eastern Washington. My buddy, Dan, has some family property on the Columbia River above Vantage: Sunland. The property contains a single-wide trailer, a 10×10 shed with a loft, a lawn and the river. It is all we need. It is perfect in its simplicity and has served us well through the years.

When dreamily fantasizing about a huge Lotto payout, I ponder all of the marvelous and exotic places I would buy. Many blue-watered, beach properties in far away lands are what I would buy.

While making these imaginary decisions, it is difficult to choose. Sunland has set the bar very high. It is hard for me to comprehend a foreign land, no matter how lavish or extravagant the property might be, being more fun. Fun is the primary metric I use to determine value in my life. I have seen many interesting, impressive and expensive places. I have been to fine-linened resorts and crusty, off-the-map beach colonies that were pretty dang cool and many that might be worthy of an offer should the day arise.

But, since I haven’t won the lottery yet, I am grateful that my joys are simple. I am an uncomplicated man and so are my pleasures. I suppose this is good, since…again…I haven’t had any windfall fortunes fall into my lap. (Though, I would like to test which theory is better.)

Last Wednesday, at my weekly Rotary Club meeting as my toe was dancing in anticipation of my upcoming weekend, a fellow member and distinguished US Army veteran, Al, spoke a few words that meant something more than my version of Memorial Day weekend.

Al mentioned, in a wonderful, understated fashion that few men possess, “perhaps” Memorial Day weekend might mean more than what most Americans take note of. He referenced a unique experience that involved his eternal gratitude for some men who lost their lives to save his. He suggested that perhaps, this weekend was about more than shopping the super-saver ads for Memorial Day “savings” at the various chain outlets, searching for a cheap mattress. He spoke the truth and it was not lost on me.

So, while I will enjoy ALL of my weekend, I will also remember why and how these things I love have come to pass. Through the sacrifice of our lost soldiers and Marines, we have much. They don’t. Their families don’t. I will remember this and them and be tremendously thankful for every little bit of simple joy I can find this weekend and always. I will remember the true intent of this weekend that I so enjoy. As I sit on the deck of the wonderful, shabby little trailer I will be happy, but also understand the price of my joy. It was paid by others and it was expensive.

The freedoms we all enjoy are scribed in headstones or locked in prisons where the parents of fallen children live. We enjoy our lives, because they lost theirs. To remember this and honor this is the very least we can do. And as I enjoy all that my weekend will deliver, I will also raise a glass and a prayer to those who made it possible and from the deepest part of my heart I will feel proud the be an American. It might be the best thing I am.

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his new exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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