“The Inner Tubes” by Reva Lachica Moore

“GOD Kept Them SAFE Again! – The Inner Tubes” by Reva Lachica Moore

I held the camcorder tightly with one hand and my camera with the other, shielding them from splashes of the surging waves. The bass boat rocked while it pushed forward, slicing each passing wave.

Behind the boat some 40 feet away, two inner tubes, like conjoined twins, held my young sons (Cliff, 11 and Adam, 9). Pulled by the boat, the inner tubes with children bounced to the left and to the right. Their shrieks were not of fear but of utter excitement. With Dad at the controls, they felt very safe. They were having the time of their lives!

In their excitement they had forgotten my (their mother’s) misery. It was my first boat ride with them, for I’m absolutely scared of the water. I kept a tight grip of the boat’s side bar. Every so often my husband looked my way. Though fear engulfed my being, I managed to smile. ‘I couldn’t believe they ride the boat and the inner tubes like this! What a dangerous sport!’ But I kept my thoughts to myself while my non-stop prayers went upward.

A few days before the daring adventure, my sons begged me to go with them and didn’t let up.
“You’ve got to come, Mom. It’s so fun!” Nine-year-old Adam pleaded with me. “You’ve got to take pictures of us!”

“I’ll go if you promise not to drive the boat fast.” I glanced at my husband for affirmation, then at the boys.

“We promise, Mom. The boat will go slow.” Giggles confirmed their promise.

A camera bug that I was, I decided to go. We started at dawn when only a handful fishing boats had started to crowd the landing.

My anxieties started before the boat left the dock. With everyone’s safety vests on, my husband broke his first promise. I was told the boat has to go full speed so as not to take in water–but that I need not worry. I also had to sit in the front deck to keep the boat balanced.

The boat seemed to be almost vertical as it started to pick up speed. This terrified me. The biting cold wind made me shiver. I was assured that soon the sun would drive the morning chill away. After a while, my husband drove the boat at moderate speed, like he promised.

The alluring Amite River was calm at early dawn. Birds of all kinds seemed to fly home after an all “night out.” Their distinct calls to each other reminded me, they, too, have important lives in this busy, uncaring world. The glassy river reflected dark, eerie shadows on its banks, as if giving warnings to keep away from them. Cypress trees with hanging Spanish moss draping their boughs, dotted the river’s edge. Many cypress trees with huge trunks in the water make excellent fishing holes. A few boats had found their places around them.

As our boat slowed down, my husband pointed to a water moccasin – head poised outside the water with the shimmering water silhouetting its long, curvy body.

Thirty minutes down the river, they found their place. The widest part of the river would be safe to pull the inner tubes. My sons’ laughter got louder; their words became screams.

The boys slowly lowered the inner tubes. One by one they swam to it. In no time, the boat was going full speed, pulling the inner tubes filled with 2 screaming kids. The excitement of the tube ride made them forget their promise to go slow.

“Go faster, Dad! Go faster!” they shouted.

It wasn’t any fun just pulling the tubes the normal way. It has to bounce! Before I could blink, the boat was swinging to the left and to the right, making the inner tubes bounce. Whichever direction the boat went, the inner tubes went just the opposite. So, there I was, absolutely horrified!

In no time the narrow river was full of activity. Boats came flying by from every direction. So while my family rejoiced, I was in total horror! Besides being scared of the water, the flying inner tubes terrified me!

“God, please help! Please give us protection!” I earnestly prayed. My non-stop prayers and fear kept me from taking pictures. Awfully worried, I wanted their joy ride to end.

Finally, exhausted after hours of tubing, they decided to go back to the marina. I didn’t stop praying until we got there. Still in shock at what I saw–a ‘time bomb’ of a fun ride, I hardly said a word.

Both my sons knew I was scared. They saw it in my eyes. They also knew I didn’t approve of their fun activity. A few hundred feet before we docked, something unimaginable happened–the set of inner tubes burst open! It probably snagged a sharp object in the water. I couldn’t hide my joy to see it gone–unfixable!

Cliff’s heart sank seeing the tubes had ruptured. With a grim look, he faced me, “You’ve been praying that it’d burst, didn’t you? I know you didn’t like it.” I understood his dismay, but in my heart, I thanked God that their source of wild fun is gone.

With worries about the dangerous inner tube over, my nerves settled. But not for long. A few days later I found myself staring at a new set of inner tubes! My husband had purchased another one! My sons loved its bright colors of green and purple. They laughed and jumped for the weekend was coming. With my mouth open and a troubled look, all I could do was shake my head.

Even if I didn’t like the sport, I decided to go the following weekend. Might as well be there to pray for them. As usual, the inner tubes were thrown left and right across the waves. As usual, my sons’ noisy laughter could be heard a mile away. I sat in the boat quietly, murmuring endless prayers. When suddenly I noticed another boat on our right pulling a set of joined inner tubes like ours. A young couple was on the boat and two boys, younger than my sons, sat on the inner tubes. The boat was pulling the tubes the normal way. The tubes weren’t swinging left and right like the ones behind our boat.

“Edwin, look at them. Why can’t you just pull the tubes normal like them?” Edwin didn’t answer me. So, I continued to pray for our stupidity.

All beat after a day of fun, my family headed back home on time for the 6:00 o’clock news. As I settled on the couch, offering thanks to God for a safe day, a news bulletin at the bottom of the TV screen made me scream. It said: “Two young boys thrown out of inner tubes in Amite River–killed!” I called my family to the den and pointed out the news. They got very quiet. They saw those boys’ inner tubes were pulled the normal way, unlike theirs. They realized it could have been them killed. They were quiet all throughout supper.

The following day the tragic news of the inner tube accident was in the paper. The boat was going through a sharp curve of the river and as it tried to maneuver through, the inner tubes were thrown into a cluster of trees.

The following weekends, our inner tubes sat on the corner of our garage – untouched. I kept a prayer in my heart. Just maybe the tragic inner tube accident made my family quit their dangerous sport. But not forever. They could hear the river calling. After the news of the inner tube disaster died down, the inner tubes were placed on the boat again. A family friend who’d never been boat riding asked to go with them. This time I stayed home and prayed. Five hours later, the boat riders came home. From their laughter, I could tell they had a fun time. I waited until they came in. Ed, the friend, told me of the fun they had, tubing and knee boarding.

“But Reva, we have bad news,” Ed said. “We had tied the inner tubes to a tree and went knee boarding nearby, watching the inner tubes at a distance. But sorry to tell you that when we went back to get it, it was gone. Someone stole it!”

I tried to be sympathetic about their $300 loss and future fun. But inside, I was thanking God. We didn’t replace the inner tube after the second loss. Somehow their craze about the river died down, too. That whole summer I thanked God again and again for keeping my family safe.

Psalm 91:1-4…1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty, 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.