I began the planning six months ago for this past weekend: the culminating event of my “Six for Sixty” celebration campaign. The deal I offered my kids was this: you do the traveling, we’ll provide the housing and pay for the race registration for you and your significant other. We would meet in Tennessee and they would join me as I ran my sixth Warrior Dash of the season, my personal goal for my sixtieth year. I registered eight of us and rented a house for the weekend via Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO).
I wanted a place closer to the race near Pulaski but the house I found in Hohenwald seemed worth the hour-plus drive we would have. It had an indoor pool, sleeping space for ten adults, a game-and-music room with pool table, hockey table, drums, guitars, amps and karaoke machine. It sounded absolutely perfect for us.
I knew from the get-go that it was unlikely that the oldest two sons would be able to join us because of military scheduling. I worried that some one or two others might pull out because of reasons beyond their control. I was afraid there might be some hidden aspect about the house that would make it less than advertised. I wasn’t sure how we’d manage food for that many without spending a small fortune eating out for the whole weekend.
Well, I was right on the first count and wrong on all the others. Well, almost wrong. Susan did pull out of the race due to her pregnancy but she not only came, she brought her replacement with her. The only drawback on the house was that one of the sleeping accommodations was a queen-sized pullout with a very thin mattress and a very uncomfortable frame. Otherwise the house was awesome! The pool was even better than we imagined and the game room was fantastic. As to the food, our daughters-in-law worked out a plan that kept us incredibly well-fed for the whole weekend. Lasagna, omelets, sandwiches, chili and burgers or brats, bacon and pancakes. Amazing.
It was very hilly and a bit chilly Saturday and windy but we survived the water and mud and conquered every obstacle. The super-fit waited at the top of each hill and after each obstacle for the rest of us. The Arnett Clan filled every chute on the big water slide, shooting down the tubes and splashing into the muddy pool at the bottom together. We crossed the finish line together, all plastered with mud from the crawl beneath the barbed wire. We cleaned up with warm water we’d brought with us, hung out for an hour or more, talking and listening to the live band, occasionally “dancing” together and then drove back to Hohenwald.
After supper and after the kids went to bed, we sat out in the yard, chairs circled around the bonfire. We shared favorite memories of the day and listed at least thirty songs that have the word “fire” in them. For bonus, one or more of us sang a snippet of each song. Somewhere in the vicinity of midnight, we all headed off to bed.
The next morning, Jeremiah, Misty and Miah headed back to Little Rock with Ben and Sara, with Ben and Sara headed back to Houston from there. Susan, Billy and little Jeremiah headed back to Paris, Kentucky. Randa and I headed back over to the airport at Nashville. Dan, Christie, Reese, Ann Marie and Dalton headed back to Murray, Kentucky. We’d spent an incredible weekend together. A few thousand miles of combined traveling. Not one cross word, not one argument, not one mean look the whole weekend. My knees hurt, my feet hurt, my calves and thighs were sore. I don’t think I could possibly have felt any better.
The joy of children and family being together, having a great time together, delighting in one another’s presence, isn’t just a primal pleasure of the human race. It traces clear back to our divine origins.