When I was growing up my parents took us on so many very, cool vacations. We got to see quite a few of our national parks and wonderful sights. Our mode of travel was normally some sort of camping. We had a station wagon and a pop-up tent trailer for a long time, and then when my parents retired they ventured into the RV world and bought a beautiful Rexhall motor home. You can read all about their adventures on my Mom’s blog, Joan on the Road.
One of the highlights of our camping experience was always having a camp fire. Building a fire, keeping it going, and eventually roasting the marshmallows for a great s’mores treat. I think one of my Dad’s favorite parts of camping was building the bonfire, I mean campfire, for the evening. He would build pretty big fires, and he was the one who kept it going. I know for myself I couldn’t wait until there were some lovely coals to roast my marshmallows next to. I prefer them lightly roasted, thank you. When we were on vacation we always had our guitars with us, and would play and sing around the fire. We loved to sing John Denver tunes. Oh those were the days.
Fast forward to my Mom and Dad’s RV-ing days, and they kept the campfire tradition going. Most times when we would visit them we’d have a fire, and maybe roast those marshmallows or a hot dog. One thing that was always with my Dad for his campfires was some sort of strong stick that he could use to stoke the fire with. It was a coveted stick, and as we all got older sometimes we would take turns stoking the fire too. What a treat.
When my Dad passed away and we were helping my Mom go through her RV and decide what she was keeping or not, she gave me my Dad’s last campfire stick he used for stoking the fires. It’s really a personal memento for me. It helps me to hold on to the good memories of our family times together around the campfire.
These days Travel Man and I have a trailer of our own that we like to take out for the weekends. We always have the coveted “Fire Stick” with us to stoke our campfires. But on our last camping trip we noticed the Fire Stick was starting to get a little short. I kept catching the end of the stick on fire, and it seemed like it was getting shorter and shorter and fading away. I suppose in the back of my mind I was worried that if the stick got shorter and went away the memories of camping with my Dad would fade a little bit too. So we made the painful (well for me anyway) decision to retire the Fire Stick. We will be keeping it in the trailer with us when we go out on our camping adventures. And eventually I think I will figure out a way to hang it on the wall.
It’s a wonder to me that a stick could hold memories that are so dear to my heart. The memories of your loved ones that are no longer with you are the ones that you hold onto the tightest. You never want to let them go.