“We’re running away.”

Lana was mad at our parents – they probably instructed her to complete a chore when she would rather play. As the little sister who adored her older and only sibling, I followed and began helping her prepare for the adventure. I remember making my favorite lunch to take along – American cheese and saltine cracker sandwiches. (Yum.)

An avid reader of adventure stories, Lana often led our play into an excursion of some sort, but this was a first. We packed up our most important belongings (her doll Rosie, my stuffed Saint Bernard), piled them on the wagon and an extension of some sort, and off we went.

There we were, headed out on our adventure and Mom made us stop to snap a picture for the family photo album. (I’m the one with the matchy-matchy yellow shirt and socks.) This day had to be recorded for posterity. Where did we go? Across the street, past two houses to the empty lot with a pile of dirt!  (The lot was next to the house on the right in the photo. We’re at the end of our circle driveway.) No, it wasn’t far, but in Lana’s mind it was far enough to get back at our parents. I was a bit scared, being the peace-loving, conflict-avoiding soul I still am.

Once we arrived at the lot, Lana announced to our neighborhood friends that we had run away. They seemed impressed that we were so bold! We played all day – no chores! I started getting homesick, looked toward our house (our street curved so it was visible) and saw Pop watching us over the wood privacy fence. I can just imagine he and Mom keeping an eye on us all day and alternately being angry and laughing at the situation.

As the sun sank in the sky that evening in September 1970, I started getting really homesick, hungry and tired. I began to cry, and Lana decided it would be best if we went home. Surely our parents had learned the lesson that she wasn’t going to do anything she didn’t want to do! I remember nothing else from that day, so we must have been welcomed home with love, fed, and tucked into bed.

Looking back on this adventure brings me joy and sadness. Lana died nine years ago from brain cancer. She inhabits my earliest memory when I was 2-years-old, and she inhabits my dreams at night. I feel the hole of her absence every day. I missed her holding my hand through my journey with ovarian cancer and telling me everything would be okay. I long for the adventures we had planned for our old age that we’ll never take.

I’ll never be as adventurous as Lana was – she went on to have many more after this one, but I do enjoy running away! Sometimes on a Saturday morning, I’ll tell Fred we should run away. He’s game! We don’t go far, just far enough to get out of doing chores.