It’s true. There’s a trust among good friends that goes beyond the rational, the need to explain. There’s a faith and a belief that your instincts are worthy of their trust. No questions, no “have you considered?” Just faith. But let me back track a little.
Hannah is a letter writer extraordinaire. A morning for her is not complete without a birthday note, postcard, or some writing to connect with family or friends (and we all know that friends are family you choose). Over the forty years of our marriage, she keeps friendships alive when distances keep us, well, at a distance. One such couple is Sue and Rick, whose kids Hannah taught to swim in her hometown of Fairport, New York one hundred years ago.
After a mid-March weekend grandparenting Owen in Arlington, VA, we drive 135 miles southeast to the Northern Neck.
I had heard about the Northern Neck from my college roommate, Big Steve; but it was all kind of foggy where the it actually was. Situated between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers off the Chesapeake Bay in eastern Virginia, the Northern Neck was home to John Smith in the early 17th century. It’s the birthplace of Presidents George Washington, James Madison, and James Monroe as well Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Lock stock and barrel, Sue and Rick, born-Yankees, have retired to a home on a creek in a wildlife setting in the rural south. Within fifteen minutes of us all being together, we get the feeling that there is no place else they would rather be than with us. They’ve no distractions, no need to check their smart phones.
As it turns out, Big Steve’s Mom, who is affectionately known as Gram to one and all, still lives in the area. Learning that she lives thirty-five minutes away, I decide that I just want to see her place and see if she is in. Now here’s where the faith and trust of Sue and Rick kick in. You see, I just don’t want to call ahead to see if she is home; even so, they immediately are on board and volunteer to drive us to Gram’s.
I think, If we call, she may feel she has to “clean up” her place or prepare a snack or worry about our arrival in some way or we would be expected to stay a longer time to make the trip “worthwhile.” I know it could be an hour plus wild goose chase, but I still just don’t want to call. Just a gut feeling for me. As Ralph Waldo Emerson says, Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. And no one can forget what Kim Basinger believes, I feel there are two people inside of me – me and my intuition. If I go against her, she’ll screw me every time, and if I follow her, we get along quite nicely.
I just want to do the Seinfeld “pop in.” If we call, it becomes a big deal. If we pop in, it’s spontaneous and brief.
Up for an adventure, Sue and Rick take us on winding back roads of Lancaster County where we see fields of green, southern pine forests, and churches galore, many times Baptist, including the evocatively named Queen Esther Baptist Church.
Pulling down the driveway at Gram’s, we see no car in the driveway. There is a garage where the car could be, but I’m not sure that Gram drives anyway. While the others sit in the car, I get out and knock on the front door, and wait. Nothing. From the front steps, I then call her on my cell phone in case she’s busy within and doesn’t hear my knock. I only get the answering machine and leave a message.
It’s a delightful spring day in the Northern Neck, an area that gets very little snow; certainly by Maine standards. Hoping Gram will just show up in the next few minutes, we walk her property, which includes a dock on this tidal river to the Chesapeake Bay. But no Gram.
We knock on the doors of neighbors to the right and left, but they, like Gram, are not home. We check out the azaleas, hollies, and daffodils – hoping our dawdling will give her just enough time to come home. But still no Gram.
Sue and Rick join me in having no regrets for having driven out and Gram not being there. We all took a shot and it didn’t come through as we had hoped. By definition adventure has uncertainty. They get that finding Gram really wasn’t the goal; oh, it would have been very nice. The goal was time together letting our relationship grow a little bit more.
Dear Readers, I wish you all marriages like Sue and Rick’s. Married some fifty years, they still show their affection and love for each other. It’s the look you see when the other is talking. They pay attention and still care what each other has to say. They can laugh at their own foibles without being defensive (one is a pokey driver, the other likes to come in under what the GPS says is the arrival time).
They have made a community in their new home of fourteen years by focusing on relationships and welcoming people into their lives. They were not worried about chaos and disrupting their lives when for eight years they welcomed foreign exchange students into their home when their kids were of school age.
Sue and Rick have found a place on the water that is a hurricane hole (i.e., protected from the big storms). They, like us all, have storms in their lives. But they weather both the figurative and literal storms by focusing on relationships; being in the now with their family and friends. In one short day, we feel like family. Sue is a fabulous cook and Rick has problem solved to make their home most inviting. We slept wonderfully in a comfortable bed. But it’s their genuine interest in us and sharing of themselves that make ours a relationship that will grow.
How do I know? I just have a gut instinct.