That summer, like so many summers before, Katie and her husband took their two daughters to Katie's family's home in the mountains. The girls, still quite young, loved the stream that went through the back of the property and the sweet smell of the pine drenched air.
The three generations always had a lot to do up at the cabin, which cabin had been in the family for as long as Katie could remember. The activities ranged from redecorating to swimming and everyone was active and happy. Never once had Katie or her husband felt like her parents were old.
Out in the water of the lake, the children were playing, jumping from the raft in dives. Along side them, Katie's husband laughed uproariously.
On the dock, Katie sat watching them all, feeling the love of that laughter, taking a moment to be totally thankful. Down came her mother from the cabin.
"It's lovely to watch everyone having so much fun, isn't it," her mother said, sitting down by her.
"I can't think of anything better. Having the whole family here together is the best thing that I can think of. Thank you so much for doing this for all of us." Katie watched the ripples in the water that spread out from her dangling toes.
"Well," her mother said, nodding back toward the house where her father was taking a nap. "It was very important to both of us to have you all here together." Katie's mom put her gentle hand on Katie's shoulder. "We did want to talk to you and John about something." John, Katie's husband, waved from the raft.
"Anything," Katie said, still watching her children and her husband.
"Well," her mother began slowly. "Your father and I have decided to pre-plan our services."
For a moment, it was as if everything went silent. Katie turned back to stare in disbelief at her mother. What was she trying to say? Weren't her parents healthy? Was this a sign that things weren't as they seemed? Katie sputtered out questions, stammering in fear and wonder.
Katie's mom couldn't keep from a chuckle. "Your father and I are happier than we have ever been," she said, smiling and holding her daughter's face in her hand.
For the next half an hour or so, Katie's mom explained why they had decided to pre-plan their services, citing everything from financial reasons to peace of mind.
"Really," Katie's mom said in summation. "It's because we're so happy and love you guys so much that we're doing this. Saddling you two with all those choices and expenses is the last thing that we want to do."
By the time her mother finished, Katie saw exactly what her mother meant. Her fears, great as they had been initially, were soothed and she understood. In fact, given a short time to think about it, she was terribly grateful for her parent's foresight
At dinner that evening, Katie found herself looking at her parents with even more love and appreciation than ever.