What I remember as I'm getting soaked:
It started out as a beautiful, sunshine filled morning. The sky promised a day full of light and outdoor heaven. My parents were up super early, cooking and preparing for our outing to the Bronx Zoo. Once we were all ready, my parents loaded the car with bags of food and snacks, and a cooler full with Malta and assorted sodas.
As always, the ride was long. Salsa music escorted us through the highway that looked like perfect rows of hundreds of ants finding food. My brothers and I looked out and played, "I Spy" trying to find cars and license plates in order to make the time go by easily.
Soon we arrived and dad found our usual parking spot, next to a small park across from the Bronx Zoo. My parents reminded us that we wouldn't stay long in the zoo because we were going to enjoy time in the park, playing and having a picnic. We really loved the park. The ducks and turtles were always roaming around and my brothers would feed them and enjoy being around them. My favorite part of the park was the stream. I never tired of watching the water move over the rocks and wonder where it ended up. For now, it would wait, the jungle first.
If you know the Bronx Zoo, you know the walk from animal to animal is long but worth it. A visit to the dark house to see the snakes could not be denied. We said hello to lions, tigers and bears, (Oh, my!) and after imitating the monkeys and behaving as if we communicated with them, it was time to say, "Good bye."
Don't think we were sad for a moment. The day was young and knowing that we were going to play in the park was the highlight of the day! We walked across the street to where the car was waiting for us. My parents began to take out the bags filled with goodies. Mom held a long, cozy blanket in one arm, and we all attempted to help carry something into the park. My brothers grabbed their baseball gloves and my dad pulled out the heavy cooler and placed it on the floor.
Mom and I began to walk, talking like girls do, and my brothers jumped and pumped one another up like boys do as dad locked the car. I kid you not, we hadn't taken five steps when the sky exploded with unexpected thunder, and immediately, without warning, powerful waterfalls of cold rain fell upon us. We all looked at each other, and you got it, we started running to the car, yelling "Dad open, open!"
As quickly as they could, my parents placed all the bags and everything we had just taken out back into the car. Inside the car, it felt as if thousands of nails were falling on the car. It was a storm like no other, without a care that we were supposed to be outside playing, it just kept coming. Thunder clapped hands in the sky, sending booming sounds like Disney's Fantasia all around us.
If you know my mom, you may know she's not one to easily give up. In my mind, it was all over, we were going home. All of a sudden, my parents opened their doors, my mom with an umbrella she kept in the car, and started to grab bags. Now I knew she wasn't going to make us sit in the pouring rain to eat. What was she up to?
She took everything to the front of the car and started serving us on plates. "Woo Hoo! It's picnic in the rain! Who wants a picnic in the rain?" My mom could always turn any dark moment into a blessed event. God has placed something magical inside her that she could make us feel like it was Christmas in July. My dad turned the music back on. He asked us what we wanted to drink and started handing them out. Mom served us arroz con gandules, potato salad, fried chicken and salad. I told you she was up really early cooking. We ate a great meal and enjoyed one another's company. My mom shared stories of when she was a little girl and my dad made an attempt to tell jokes.
Treats and fruit followed the meal, and we savored each bite, listening to the rain accompany the music playing on the radio. We laughed at people running and screaming as they ran out of the Bronx Zoo and were grateful for a dad like ours, that always got us a great parking. We were nice and dry, enjoying, our picnic in the rain.
The rain has started to get tired and is slowly stopping. I am still standing here holding my umbrella watching my son on the field as he practices. I am soaked. All the parents here are. I wouldn't trade this moment for anything in the world. As I remember that day I look up to the heavens and give God thanks for my parents. Thank you Lord for blessing me with them.
Thank you Lord, for precious family moments that never die. Thank you for the rain. It allowed me to be eleven years old again. A picnic in the rain. What I wouldn't give to live that moment in the car once again.