Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Wizard Family

I had a friend in grade school who used to do this amazing card trick. He would ask you to select ANY card from a standard deck and hand it to him. Then, he would call this phone number and ask for the Wizard. After a brief hold, he would hand you the phone and the creepy voice on the other end would tell you what your card was. This kids name was Justin and he was a clever kid, one of the great thinkers in the neighborhood. He would do this trick 3-4 times in a row for a group of us and we would scratch our heads every time. He never revealed his secret.

Then, one day, after Justin went home, I decided to investigate. Who was the wizard? How did Justin get the wizard's number? Why wouldn't he share it with us so we could baffle others? I walked over the the phone that he had used earlier and pressed redial. After a few rings his mom answered. Hmm, he must have used the phone to check in after doing the trick. Or, perhaps he had purposely called home to erase the Wizard's number from my phones memory bank. While thinking about this, and also thinking about the least awkward way to address Justin's mom, it hit me. 

"Is this Wizard home?" I asked.

She replied, with military precision, "Ace, two, three, four..."

"Sure, I will hold." I said

When she heard these words she switched to naming suits, "Hearts, Spades..."

Then I said something like, "Okay, here he is." and she stopped.

Armed with a number and a suit, she waited patiently for an audience member to get on the phone. 

Holy shit. The secret of the Wizard revealed. I hung up the phone and immediately felt let-down. It seems whenever you learn the secret behind a magicians trick you unearth an explanation so basic, it leaves you underwhelmed and depressed. You realize you can never get that feeling of amazement back as, once again, ignorance proves to be bliss. 

I found myself gaining a tremendous amount of respect for his parents after this. I learned that everyone in the house was in on the trick so no matter who called or who answered, they all knew the drill. They were a cohesive unit that amazed their friends all around town with the secret of the Wizard. This single action from a family down the street made me realize something about parents. They all do things a little different but, all parents, no matter what their style, have the power to mold their household and children, whether intentionally or unintentionally. This tone, set by our parents, is what makes us reminisce about our childhood. It's the reason that, even as adults, it just feels good to have our parents around. 

This week we rolled up to a Florida State Park in Central Florida. The experience in this area isn't your typical Florida experience. Instead of oceans and sunsets you get dense forests and diverse wildlife. I love oceans just as much as the next guy but our family has a strong connection to the forest and when we get a chance to camp in a Florida hammock for a week, we take it. 
The hardwood stands that lie on the edges of wetlands are called Hammocks. The origin of the word is unclear but when you walk through one, you get a few ideas why they might call it this. 

When we arrived at our campsite, Noah and Sam immediately charmed a woman across the road from us and she entertained them while we unpacked. This was our first long stop in a while and it was the end of our 18-day, 2,500 mile trip across the country. In fact, this stop was the reason we had to take this long trek. In just a couple of hours, our Uncle Don and Aunt LuAnn were due to arrive and our week of family fun would be underway. So, we pulled out all the chairs, rugs, awnings and bikes so we could take full advantage of our time here. 

After we got set up we took a walk down to the playground and did some Geocaching. It's a family activity that we have been doing for years and the boys absolutely LOVE it. While I was sitting on a bench watching the red shouldered Hawks circle the playground, I got a text message from Aunt LuAnn - Where are you? I replied - On our way back now. And we started back towards camp. 

We were all really excited to see some family. We had planned to meet Don and LuAnn here months ago and as time went on, we learned that a LOT of Jessica's family would be in the area at the same time. We decided since we were all in town and the Tigers were doing Spring Training nearby, we would all buy tickets and meet up at a baseball game. At one point, we had tried really hard to convince Jessica's parents to come down but they couldn't get the time off work. Jessica was pretty bummed but still, she had a whole bunch of family to see. 

When we got to camp we exchanged hugs with our family and everyone was all smiles. Then, Aunt LuAnn asked Jessica if she could help her get something from the back seat. Jessica headed toward the car and her aunt looked at me and told me to start taking a video. Knowing there was a surprise in the car, I fumbled around in my pocket, reaching for my phone. Eventually, I managed to pull it out but it was too late. Jessica opened the back door and a familiar figure popped out of the backseat and wrapped her arms around Jessica in a full embrace. It was her mom. A long, tear filled hug followed and Jessica was, at that moment, the happiest girl on earth. Noah came riding up on his bike and hopped off and immediately ran into his grandmas arms. It was a fantastic moment and Jessica's family deserves a huge pat on the back for pulling it off. It was an awesome beginning to a really great week. 

Uncle Don and Aunt LuAnn have a pretty awesome teardrop setup. We hung out under the canopy all week. 

Arrival day. We finished setting up camp and had Korean soup. I think Jessica's smile says it all. 

Grandma playing baseball with the boys. Getting them ready for MLB Spring Training. 

Our spot on the berm at Marchant Stadium. 

The whole gang. Everyone just happened to be in Florida on the same day. 

The Tigers beat the O's 15-2. As a Michigan football fan. Uncle Chuck is not used to watching his team win in such convincing fashion. 

We did some more disc golfing. Sammy is showing his grandma how to throw. 

Grandma getting ready to take her shot from the fairway. 

Mother and daughter chatting with the boys in the stroller.

All of the fruit we found in the hammock was tested first by Uncle Don. The oranges were really bitter but the grapefruit was perfect. 

Sammy and Uncle Don

Noah and Uncle Don.

There is no replacement for family. They are the place from which you came and the reminder to never forget who you are. They gather around you at the beginning and end of your life and celebrate you. In between, they show you the things that make you a part of them. Your family is your home in this world.  Last I heard, my grade school friend, Justin, has a baby on the way. I have high hopes that when the time is right, he will bring his kid into the inner circle and make him a part of the Wizard family. 

PLACES WE HAVE BEEN! (Click map for pictures and notes)

For more pics, maps and other stuff visit our website. 

1 comment:

  1. Great Post! So happy that Jessica got to see her Fam. It was always harder on me than Lindy to be without the fam, but we come from large families. We're used to having people around. Congrats to Justin and the Wizard family!