Abandoned: A Story of a Mother Left on an Island

IMG_4263 I recently went to my friends' cabin with Zeca and my friends' daughter and, one day, it was too cold and cloudy for the girls to swim so I suggested we go out in the canoe.

The conversation went something like this:

Vikki: Let's go out in the canoe! FUN! TOGETHERNESS! ADVENTURE!

The Girls: We'll go out in the canoe and you can take the kayak!  FUN! INDEPENDENCE! ADVENTURE!

Vikki: I want us all to be together for I am growing older and we don't spend enough time together and I can hear the delicate, heart-wrenching strains of Harry Chapin's Cat's in the Cradle!

The Girls: Fine. You can sit in the middle while we paddle.

It is difficult to cope with being so beloved by the children in my life.

We got settled in the canoe, pushed off and set our course for adventure our mind on a new...no...wrong song. Wait, I remember the right one now:

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, A tale of a fateful trip That started from this tropic port Aboard this tiny ship.

The girls paddled and I took pictures and reveled in the fact that they were doing all the work and I was simply enjoying the ride. Isn't that why we all had kids in the first place?

We made our way around the island and came to a swampy area with high grasses, lily pads, and carnivorous water mammals likely hidden in the brush. The girls wanted to go through the swampy channel to the other side of the island and I offered my perspective.

What I said:

"I think we should go back the way we came because I'm not sure you can paddle through here."

What they heard:

"You'll never be able to do this! This is wrong! You are wrong! My ideas are always the best ideas which means your ideas are always the worst ideas!"

They slowly backed the canoe out of the area and paddled towards the island and when I asked what they were doing, they answered in unison, "Dropping you off."

Vikki: Wait! What?

The Girls: You are being negative so we are dropping you off on the island and we'll pick you up on the other side.

Vikki: I wasn't being negative! I don't want to be dropped off on the island! Remember the last time I was left on the island and it rained ticks on me?!

But my fate had already been decided, so, I asked them to run the canoe onto the shore and they shook their heads and said, "This is as close as we can get." We were several feet from shore and the water was deeper than I would have liked and filled with more weeds and debris than I would have liked and was less of a wooden walkway covered in rose petals than I would have liked.

Vikki: I can't get out here! I don't have a swimsuit and there are weeds!

The Girls: *resolute stare*

Vikki: Fine. I am doing this because I love you!

The Girls: *resolute stare*

I put my phone in my pocket, grabbed my flip flops and then pulled up my shorts and eased out of the canoe into the water that came to mid-thigh and then I waded through the weeds and unseen carnivorous water mammals and the girls didn't even wait for me to make landfall before heading back to the swamp.

I am a person who wears shoes and socks at all times. I am not a person who enjoys wearing flip flops because I don't like my feet to get dirty, so, you can imagine my joy in hiking through the dense forest with wet feet, wearing flip flops.



For the next 45 minutes, I sat on the island waiting for them to return. Behind me, twigs snapped, convincing me that something big and clumsy was coming for me. In front of me, a small, furry/feathery thing rose from the water and screeched as it ran along the shoreline. As the minutes ticked by, I was certain they were going to leave me there as a joke and I would have to swim back to the cabin. After half an hour, I began to panic--maybe the canoe flipped and they had drowned or maybe they had been eaten by a duck. I imagined the police, "Ma'am, why did you think it was wise to allow two pre-teen girls to paddle through a swamp without adult supervision?" I imagined telling Luisa and my friends' about my lapse in judgement. They would never forgive me! I would never forgive myself! I ran towards the swamp screaming their names and there was no answer!


I sat back down on my fallen tree full of ants and took deep breaths and then I heard them! Laughing! The rustling of the canoe in the weeds! They weren't dead and they came back for me! I ran towards the shore like I'd been marooned for years and suddenly understood why everyone was crazy on Gilligan's Island and why Tom Hanks talked to that stupid volleyball!

The girls pulled close to shore to let me get into the canoe and I said, "You came back for me! I thought you'd left me!" They just laughed, "We would never leave you!"

I nestled into my spot in the middle and they pointed the canoe towards home and, about thirty seconds later, they said, "We're tired from going through the swamp. You'll have to paddle now." And so I did...seated deep in the middle and paddling from that position like I had the arms of a T-Rex.

But I had survived. We all had.

If not for the courage of the fearless crew The minnow would be lost, the minnow would be lost.