The summer after my 3rd grade year, I turned 8 years old.
My parents, two older sisters and some family friends drove from Iowa up to Minnesota to visit my Aunt, Uncle and cousins farm for a summer weekend getaway.
It was about a four hour drive from our house to my Aunt and Uncle’s house and also a time when minivans or SUV’s weren’t a typical mode of transportation. That being said, seven people traveling together meant that two cars were needed for everyone to travel comfortably.
As promised, the weekend was fun and full of adventure but it was time to go back home.
Communication between the two cars consisted of either pulling off the road and talking, or driving side by side while one car put a note on the window to inform the other car what they wanted to do. Technology had nothing compared to a child’s crayon printed note that said, McDonalds, Charles City, Potty, Ice Cream. 🙂 Ten minutes later, both cars stopped at the McDonalds in Charles City for a potty break and ice cream.
Being the youngest, my two sisters used the one toilet restroom first, then me.
After I was finished, I headed outside to jump back into the car, enjoy my ice cream cone and complete the final 45 minutes of the trip.
But the cars were gone.
Both of them.
I walked around and around that McDonalds for what seemed like hours, looking for those cars. I double, triple checked the bathrooms for my sisters. I kept hoping everyone was just playing a silly trick on me.
I soon figured out that there was no trick.
The cars were gone.
I couldn’t believe that they had left me!
I didn’t panic, I didn’t cry.
Even at the young age of eight, I knew I needed to make a plan.
Plan A: Contact someone in Charles City to help me. Did I know anyone in Charles City? Nope.
Plan B: Call our neighbor Darles to come and get me. Did I have any money for a pay phone to call her? Nope.
Plan C: Did I recognize anyone working or eating at the McDonalds? Nope and Nope.
Plan D: Ask the manager of McDonalds for help.
Plan D it was, but first I walked around the parking lot one more time just incase I had missed the cars.
Still no cars.
I gathered my confidence and walked to the counter to ask for the manager.
As if I was starring in a Hallmark movie, at that very moment my Dad walked into the restaurant.
I very quickly walked to him and burst into tears.
My Dad enveloped me into the greatest Papa bear hug, and whispered in my ear I’m sorry Pooh…. I love you.
I have never simultaneously felt so much anger, joy and love in my entire eight years.
I love you too Dad.