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Our Story Begins: Big Trees, Big Changes


Our Story Begins:
Big Trees, Big Changes

I woke up on Saturday morning last week and decided it was time.

Time for what, you might very well ask, and you’d be right in line with my four children who asked that same question when I informed them we were not going to the movies today.  I do take them to a lot of movies because, being honest, we enjoy going.  It’s that simple.  We don’t go every week, not even every month.  But they saw a lot of new films out and they wanted to sample the studio-flick-du-jour.

I had other ideas.

2 ½ years ago my wife, Andrea, passed away.  Since then our life has been a series of ups-and-downs.  Not all monumental lows, not all monumental highs.  (Stay with me here, there’s a point)  Since she passed away, though, we’ve been trying to do more things that we never did.  This day it was going 2 ½ hours away to a state park

I know, I know, it’s not animated talking planes or super heroes in iron masks.  Still, I wanted to do something . . . something a bit more adventurous than we’d done in the last few weeks.  This was the perfect opportunity as it was the last weekend before driving two states away to take my oldest daughter on her own new story . . . life in college.

We went to Big Trees State Park in Calaveras County, California.

What came from the trip wasn’t so much about what we did or the history or where we went…as what I saw during this trip. Some are unique to us, others apply to everyone.

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That photo up there says it all.  Andrea’s gone, she’s not coming back (sorry to be blunt, but it’s true!) and we are doing things our own way.  This photo would never have happened 3 years ago: Andrea wouldn’t have wanted to go to the Big Trees and she would have had a heart attack about those three kids on top of the giant tree!

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dave 2

Abbi up there leaves in about 3 days to start college.  You can tell me “she’ll be home for holidays” and “you can Skype or FaceTime” all you want.  Guess what…she’s about 3 months away from the age I was when I met her mother.  That really kind of scares me.  This was one of those opportunities to do something cool, different and a bit adventurous that she will remember forever.

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No, we’re not climbing Everest, but this is pretty good for us.  I would love nothing more than to take the kids to Big Ben in London or to see the Old City of Jerusalem but financially that’s not in the cards.  Still, walking up through the Sierra Mountains to see trees hundreds of years older than our parents? Cool !  The fact that Return of the Jedi was filmed here? Cooler still. Yeah, we’re geeks, get over it!

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We were so unhealthy for so long. Abbi has high cholesterol that’s on the cusp of needing medication – that’s from everything that led to today.  In the last couple years we’ve been eating less red meat, more colorful foods on our plates, and we’ve been solidly healthier. Am I where I need to be? No. I have 25 more pounds to lose; Abbi has some as well (her words, not mine). But we’re moving and walking and not sedentary.  Climbing that tree was a breeze, not a strain.  Speaking of strains…

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I’ve posted pictures with smiles and happy moments, but everything seemed strained up to that point. We talked about their mother, sure, but we talked more about the amazing things we saw. What used to be doing something to get out and away from the grief and the problems has become getting out because I knew . . . I knew . . . that we’d have a blast. That’s what these little trips mean.

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The lesson for you, my friends, readers and countrymen in the GEMpire? Life can easily be an adventure. You just have to open your eyes. It doesn’t take a tragic event, like ours, losing my wife, to push you here. These are the memory-making events and those will shape the stories your kids will tell and write with their own lives.  So do you take those little treks? Go off the path? Do you take those chances as they come up or do you think you sit in the dark theater?

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Dave Manoucheri framed headshot

Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.

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