By Betty Slade | PREVIEW columnist
“Tough as Nails” is a CBS TV show with working-class Americans who are tested for their strength, endurance, agility and mental toughness. They are challenged in the real world. Tough as nails also means strong, stubborn or determined.
Believe me, two senior citizens in a wrestling match in a strip mall parking lot was another reality show. My Sweet Al displayed his stubbornness in front of the nail salon when he refused to go into the shop.
“I’ll wait in the car. I’m not going in.”
“Yes, you are.” I called my daughter over for support. “Your dad won’t budge.”
“Daddy, come on, you’re going to get your toenails done.”
“OK.” He took her hand and went into the business and took the first recliner available. Four other family members followed suit.
This adventure started when the family drew names for the Christmas gift exchange. My daughter and I each got the other’s name. I said, “I don’t need a thing. Why don’t we get pedicures and go out to lunch? I’ll buy yours and you buy mine.”
“I don’t need anything either. It’s perfect.”
On New Year’s Day, my daughter called. “We have the day off, let’s go to Santa Fe and get pedicures.”
“Sounds good. You know I can’t reach my toes. I asked your dad to trim my nails and polish my toenails. Not a good idea. I had paint up to my ankles and scissors cuts to my knees. I’m due for a little tender love and care.”
The family planned the trip for the weekend and climbed into the truck. In the nail salon, five of us lined up in recliners with our favorite colors. Two chose clear.
As the staff worked on us, my daughter offered to take a selfie including the family. She said, “Look at the guys. They ordered the works — hot rocks, hot towels, exfoliating, hydrating and moisturizing, softening, renewed skin and a long massage.”
I responded, “To think what it took to get your dad in the chair. I’m catching the scent of lavender and jasmine scrubs from their vibrating recliners. Look at them.”
My daughter said, “Hot nails. Hot males. This was our gift exchange and we just got the classic. They went for the signature treatment and all the works.”
One patron chuckled at our family. “A family who has pedicures together sticks together.”
I replied, “Apparently you didn’t see the wrestling match in the parking lot.”
Over the years, people have asked, “How is it that your grownup family laughs a lot and really enjoys being together?”
I’m not sure, but I have found, give this family a rock and stick and they will make a game out of it. I believe it goes deeper than that. An article appeared in my January newsletter about how we became a family. I called the message “Wrapped in Snow.”
The year: 1977. We moved to the mountains of Colorado. Homebound, with 4 feet of snow, no phone, no four-wheel drive and frozen water pipes, we became more than living in the same house. We became family.
Off the beaten path, our family of six huddled around a wood-burning potbelly stove. The aroma of a pot of beans and bread baking filled the house. Deer and elk meat in the freezer helped us believe we would survive. Homemade goodies, piano lessons, craft projects, children’s laughter, all this became our home on the Lower Blanco.
Living in Pagosa Springs brings the best and worst out of a person. We saw many families come with dreams and drive away in separate cars, heartbroken. We were one of the few families who survived and stayed in this mountainous wilderness.
Our family roots reached down below the frozen Colorado soil while God poured heaven’s life into us. Our barren branches reached up for the Son and we learned how to appreciate the small things in life. With open hearts, trusting the love of God’s hard lessons, knitting the fiber of our family’s soul together, those years are who we are today.
Final brushstroke: Would I ever see “wrapped in snow” as God’s way of wrapping my family in his love and protection, and building strong godly values? No. But in the coldness and loneliness of a person’s soul is where one meets themselves and God. I learned what it took for God to raise a family who truly enjoy and appreciate each other.
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