By Rose Sweet
Excerpt from A Catholic Woman’s Guide to Happiness, TAN Books 2018
Whoo-hoo! We’re going to Disneyland! In 1962 I went on my first grand adventure and the very thought of it had me bursting with happiness. Mom, Dad, Uncle John, and eight of us kids all piled into our new Chevy Greenbrier van and embarked on a thirteen-hour drive from hell. Not like today when children have their own leather seat and watch movies on their personal devices; when parents stop at McDonald’s every few hours and get them HAPPY meals with Coke and fries and toys in them.
Not us. No, we only had a 10 lb. bag of green apples and a Coleman steel cooler with ice water and paper cups. That was it. Five-hundred miles of kicking, pushing, and poking, the babies crying, the boys farting, and Dad barking at us to stop asking when we’re going to get there. Talk about wanting to escape.
Thankfully, mixed in with the immediate misery was the anticipation for our destination: DISNEYLAND and all the sparkling, unimaginably happy joys it promised. The Happiest Place on Earth. That thought—and the realization with each hour that we were getting closer—made the rough ride all worth it to me.
Our family trip is a metaphor for life. If we keep our minds and hearts on our eternal destination—even though life is pushing and poking us—this rough ride will be worth it, too. And not just worth it; it can be joyous! When I wasn’t focused on the miserable parts of that day, I recall that we sang songs, listened to Uncle John tell real-life stories of the Texas Rangers, took naps, counted Volkswagens, and read Nancy Drew mysteries.
Life is neither all happiness nor all suffering. It’s both.
It’s a mystery!
When we got to Anaheim, we scrambled out of the van and into the Fantasy Motel. Typical of mid-century décor, the walls were painted in beautiful pastels with tiny sparkles in the bathroom tile and there were little soap bars wrapped up in pretty paper. Fresh towels hung on the racks and if you put a quarter in the bed it would vibrate! Before bed, Mom and Dad let my sisters, Barb and Serena, and I stay up and watch across the parking lot from the second-story balcony as Tinkerbell flew through sparkling fairy dust from the Matterhorn down to Sleeping Beauty’s castle. I was so happy! To this day I love staying at hotels.
And every year I still try to get to Disneyland for my birthday.
Happiness for you will be a combination of how God has told us to get there and your own, particular loves and interests. Spend some time thinking and praying more deeply about what you really desire—deep, deep down—and I know you will find it.
What experiences made you happy in childhood?
If today you lost your spouse, children, family or friends, could you still find joy? How?
About the Author:
ROSE SWEET is a frequent guest on national Catholic radio and TV, a retreat and conference speaker, and author of twelve books on healing and strengthening relationships. Her video series, “Surviving Divorce,” has brought hope and healing into hundreds of parishes in sixteen countries. Writing for all women, her latest book series begins with “A Catholic Woman’s Guide to HAPPINESS.” rosesweet.com
Rose, I love your story and I REALLY love your analogy of how life is both good and bad, but if we keep our mind and hearts on the “Disneyland” of our eternal reward, we can get through it all. Thank you!!!
Thank God for the pit stops, right? Glad you enjoyed this.
This immediately took me back to my first visit to Disney World in Orlando. I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale. My childhood was on one hand dysfunctional, and on the other, idyllic. I mean, going to the beach every weekend, because it was free, wasn’t a bad way to play on Saturdays and Sundays as a six year old. When we went to Disney with our dad, after being newly separated from our Mom, it remains one of the few good memories I have of my dad. Space Mountain, where he served as my seat belt ( back then in 75′, the slighter passenger sat in front of the larger passenger, in the same seat!), my sister and I wandering off, and my poor dad, outside his mind with worry, when he found us. (We weren’t lost.) Even the frozen coconut cake he served us in the Days Inn motel, before our visit to Disney, and singing Happy Birthday to me. It’s all icing on the cake. Thanks for this post, this reminder of heaven.
Having been born in the sane era, I can relate to most of the things you share! When I read anything you erite about, it’s like a trip down memory lane for me – the good, bad, ugly, sad and joyous , co-mingled…