Today’s gift is one of those dramatic ones. Molly, Tip, and Owen drove north to Seacoast Maine and New Hampshire to see their families last week. As co-breadwinner, Tip had to fly back to Virginia Sunday night and work for the week while Molly and Owen stayed with us. Alas, there was no way Molly could drive eight-week Owen back to Virginia by herself. Given my retirement schedule, I leapt at the chance for a road trip.
Leaving at 510A with Owen nestled in his car seat, we start out with me driving for as long as Owen will sleep. Holding our breath, we pass the I-90 Sturbridge Turnpike Rest Stop, the I-84 rest area north of Hartford, CT and make it nearly to the NY border on the Merritt Parkway in CT before he lets us know he is hungry, wet, and not entirely pleased to be strapped in his high tech, “impregnable to a nuclear attack” car seat. Molly feeds and changes him and off she drives us through NY by way of the George Washington Bridge, down the New Jersey Turnpike, and it’s into Maryland before Owen stirs again. Molly feeds him, McDonald’s ice cream cones for us, and on I-95 again with their apartment in Arlington, VA in our sights.
Molly and I have eight uninterrupted hours (thank you Owen) to talk about life, what lies ahead for her and Tip; will she teach at a university once her PhD work is done this spring? It’s great when a child grows into a friend. We never turn on the radio, slip away by reading magazines, and don’t check our phones. Clichés rock: truly the journey was the destination.
That night I stay with our friend Amelia. We talk and I listen as she shares the current transition in her life. I give her the gift of listening without the need to provide a solution. Her answers lie within her anyway. It gets me thinking that my most useful gift these 29 Gifts in 29 Days is when I listened; truly listened without interruption, without the need to incorporate my story.