"Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
Keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds
when we'ere together?
Just sing a song,
and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you,
'Til we meet again."
- Roy Rogers/Dale Evans
I've been thinking a lot about goodbyes lately. Leaving camp, one daughter half way around the world and two more on a trip to New England, friends passing on...others living in different states...or countries, children moving into new chapters in their lives, siblings finding their "home" in far-off ports. And this song, "Happy Trails" by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (for those of you who grew up watching The Roy Rogers Show every week, click on this link for the familiar opening) brings a smile to my heart.
For many years, singing this song to departing campers as the airport bus pulled out of the turn circle, was a tradition. Campers would lean out of bus windows waving wildly, as counselors (and those campers who were blessed with another session) waved back singing "Happy Trails". It always made me feel peaceful to think that we would all see one another again. I never doubted that our trails would re-converge. I knew that many of us would pour through the camp gate in another year, and that we would find ourselves at the same campfire, hymn sing, or rodeo...again.
I much prefer "see you later," to "goodbye." I am so sure that we will see one another again. My grandmother once told me, when I asked her, well into her 90s, "what will I do without you?", "Well, I hope you will live your life in a way that you will have great stories to share with me when we see eachother again!" Her conviction that we would see one another again, and that I better have good stories to share with her, gave my life direction.
I knew the kind of stories she was talking about...we were both Christian Science practitioners who devoted our lives to helping others discover more about their relationship to God...she expected stories of healing, redemption, transformation, salvation, and resurrection. She would settle for nothing less. Nothing else would interest her.
She had proved that throughout our relationship as grandmother and granddaughter. Every letter, every postcard, every phone call was full of spiritual inspiration and stories of healing. As a teenager, this was something that I didn't understand or even like. I wanted her to talk about grandma things. To ask me more about my dancing, clothes, boys, school. But her letters were always about God, and me as His child...pure, perfect, whole, and good.
I still strive to live my life in such a way that I will have good stories to share with her. But I also try to do the same thing for my daughter who lives 12,000 miles away in South Africa, my friend who lives in another state, campers and counselors I will not see until next summer, and other loved ones who have passed on.
In remembering the lyrics to Happy Trails, I couldn't help but remark on the stanza that is often forgotten:
"...Some trails are happy ones, _
Others are blue. _
It's the way you ride the trail that counts, _
Here's a happy one for you...
Happy trails to you
'Till we meet again..."
Good stories are not just defined by sunny days full of light and laughter, joy and comfort. Good stories are stories where "the way you ride the trail" counts more than the horse you're on, the weather you encounter, or the scenery along the way. Were you kind, did you turn to God -- immediately or eventually, were you patient with yourself and others, did you give generously of what you had to share - the act, not the amount being what mattered, did you love much, laugh often, and live with abandon.
It's the way you ride the trail that counts.
As I look back on the stories of this summer, I am blessed with countless instances where I had a front row seat to campers and counselors who rode their trail...rocky, steep, smooth, dark, or rugged...well. Very well. They rode with grace, with courage, with unselfed affections, with persistence, with patience.
My grandmother will love these stories.
Happy trails to each of you...till we meet again,
Kate Robertson, CS
[photo of Brittany Richardson by Ashley Bay 2009]