They were young and didn't have any children of their own yet. This gave them the courage to take six kids along with another couple of adults (also young and childless) to the woods of Maine for a canoeing and camping trip down the meandering Saco River.
The Saco is a mostly gentle, shallow river that has wide bends with sandy shores that make it great for camping and novice canoers. On our trip there was only one small patch of whitewater.
It was just rough enough that Uncle Jay decided that it would be best to take the canoes out of water and carry them on the riverbank, just past the rough waters. There was one canoe that was too heavy to carry over land, that was the supply canoe. The supply canoe had all of our food, tents, matches and other essentials. Uncle Jay manned this canoe by himself for most of the trip.
There was some discussion about unloading the supplies, but Uncle Jay decided that the he could get the canoe through with little or no damage. We made sure the supplies were tucked in tight and arranged to be as waterproof as possible. Then we got the other canoes on to land and moved them downriver past the whitewater.
Then Uncle Jay went back for the supply canoe and he called me to go with him. He said he needed someone in the front who could see the rocks and keep the bow from crashing down on them.
Before I could say that I didn't think I was up for it, my older brother and cousin protested.
They were older and stronger and boys. This was why they got to use the axe for firewood after all. I didn't argue against them. In fact I was secretly agreeing with them. I was a sixty five pound girl who had tried the axe and didn't have the strength to cut through a skinny branch.
Uncle Jay, in his even tone (as always) just said, "Moira has the most canoeing experience so she is coming with me".
He just turned from them, signaled for me to get in the canoe and got ready to launch our mission.
I remember looking to my Auntie Chrissy to see what she thought about the plan. She had her hands clasped over her heart with a big smile on her face, mooning at Uncle Jay imagining their future children.
I knew she wasn't going to get me out of this.
So, I got in. I was a little afraid of capsizing and ruining the trip. I was mostly calm though. My uncle's confidence in me gave me the peace I needed to focus on the task at hand.
The whitewater wasn't so bad and looks less white when you are in it. In fact it was a lot of fun. And the supplies, the canoe and ourselves all survived, perhaps a little more wet for the wear.
That little moment in my life has always stuck with me.
I can call upon it when I need to give myself a reminder that I am stronger and more prepared than I think I am.
Thank you, Uncle Jay.