That summer marked our last FCM before college, as well as our first national conference together as a couple. Ked and Ryan drove down and met up with my family at my house. Ked, Ryan, a friend of mine and I all rode in Ked’s parent’s van following my parents out to Iowa. Ked had affectionately named that van, a 1980’s mustardy-tan Dodge Caravan “The Junk.” On the ride down to Ohio, Ked and Ryan had been laughing so hard while eating granola, that they spewed it all over the dashboard. Until they sold the van, it would spew granola out the vents every time the heat or air was turned on. Adding Ryan to the mix just made the week more fun. Ked’s parents had been holding meetings elsewhere and met us all at the convention. We parted ways at the end of the week, looking forward to re-uniting in a few short weeks on campus in Michigan.
I really, really enjoyed the whole week, especially my time with you. Reflecting back, there are several things that really stand out and mean more to me than you’ll ever know. One is the times we had to work together juggling and especially that night up in hospitality. I remember thinking how comfortable I was and how much I enjoy working side by side with you. What a great team we make, serving others together. Another is seeing you stand up for me. That means more than you’ll ever know. You have no idea what happened to me when you told me I’m worth waiting for – worth keeping the commitment. Oh, Ked. How did I ever get so blessed? When you said sometimes you wonder how long you can wait for the kiss, the same thought has crossed my mind. But you too are well worth the wait. You have no idea how excited I am about the coming year. I want you to know that you can hang out with your new friends whenever you want. You don’t always have to sit with me at chapel and meals. When you need to be left alone, be sure to tell me. I don’t want to get in the way of your friendships!
Not long before I headed off to college, my Dad and I did a magic program together. It was a big deal because we were the entertainment for his employer’s banquet honoring the 5, 10, 15, and 20 year employees. Rather than performing as clowns as we usually did, we went as straight performers. I did a ventriloquism skit, and it bombed. It was the first time in my 13 years of performing that I felt the audience was just being polite. My Dad’s magic routine, however, was a huge hit. They laughed at every joke and marveled at every trick. He was in his element.
On our way home, I congratulated him. “I think that might be the first time that I completely bombed. They loved your magic waaaay more than my vent routine!” He looked over at me a bit surprised and replied, “I know. That’s never happened before!”
We had been performing together since I was 5 years old. I have countless memories of hanging out with my Dad, practicing juggling, working on new skits, and driving to and from shows. One time we were on the highway coming home from a program, still dressed as clowns, when a car with two young men zipped past us and then hit the brakes. They slowed down until we were traveling side-by-side. They were staring at us through the windows, mouths hanging open. My Dad waved. They waved back and started laughing before speeding up again. It’s not everyday you see two clowns on the highway. Dad also enjoyed driving through McDonald’s drive through for a snack after a show. He’d always ask if Ronald could come out to play. The voice through the microphone would say, “OH…Um…Ronald’s not here today.” We’d pull forward to get our order and the employees would start cracking up when they saw two clowns and all crowded around the window. I loved performing with my Dad. I loved hanging out with my Dad. I just plain loved my Dad.
After this particular show, we didn’t need to say it, but we knew this was a symbolic passing of the baton. I was headed to college in another state, and Ked and I had already started talking about writing skits and beginning to perform together. Dad knew I had a new performing partner, and he was happy for me. But the evening was still bittersweet – for I was no longer the little girl-clown who missed her cues and had to be prodded onto stage and reminded what the next line was. I was an adult now, and ready to strike out on my own. That performance was our last together.