Our Summer Vacation – Day 4
My wife and I were on the road early on Day 4 after spending the night in Myrtle Beach. We had visited 7 states in our first 3 days and our plans were to add a couple more before we slept again. Since the Atlantic coast from Myrtle Beach to Charleston was new territory for us, we shunned I-95 in favor of 2-lane Highway 17 hoping to discover some pleasant surprises.
We got a surprise, but it was not one we would have chosen.
As we entered north Charleston, my wife’s phone rang. After a brief conversation, I heard her say “OH, NO!” She turned to me and said “Rich passed away this morning!”
We had just had breakfast with my brother, Rich, the day before. He was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He had lost 35 pounds and survived rain and snow and numerous physical ills covering 700+ miles in 3 months.. At age 67 he was the same age I was when I had a heart attack two years ago. My mind automatically began to plan turning around and backtracking to Virginia and the Appalachian Trail.
Then my wife clarified. It wasn’t my BROTHER, Rich. It was our NEIGHBOR, Rich, who I had spoken to by phone just the day before on our way to Myrtle Beach. The same guy who, when I had asked him how he was doing, responded with an enthusiastic “I’m feeling better every day!”
When I misunderstood my wife and thought it was my brother who had passed away, I experienced grief. When I found out it was my neighbor instead of my brother, I felt relief, then grief again, and then guilt that I was relieved when I found out a good friend had died instead of my brother.
A single phone call had sure put an end to that “peaceful, easy feeling” I was enjoying while driving coastal Carolina on a beautiful summer morning.
In December of 1965, the rock group The Bryds released what would become a number 1 hit in the U.S. Though it was put to music in the 20th century, the lyrics were composed considerably before Baby Boomers arrived on the scene.. They were written by King Solomon in the tenth century B.C. and are found in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament of the Bible.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
My wife and I had that scripture read at our wedding in 1972. The preacher was hesitant. He wasn’t sure there should be “a time to kill” or “a time to hate”, but he reluctantly agreed to include that scripture in the ceremony.
As of August 18, my wife and I will have been married 46 years. During our marriage we have experienced everything King Solomon wrote about in the 3rd Chapter of Ecclesiastes. In fact, just on this vacation alone we were checking off quite a few. (Just to clarify, in my life I have primarily restricted the “time to kill” to apply to ticks, mosquitoes, moles, and armadillos). And even though I consider our marriage to be strong, love and hate are not mutually exclusive in a relationship.
I do admit – I haven’t allotted as much “time to dance” as my wife would have liked.
As we merged on to I-95 headed south, our trip, like life, went on. We had an appointment to pick up our grandkids at the Fort Lauderdale airport.
A time for every purpose under the heaven surely includes spending time with your grandkids at the beach.
Love, Laughter, probably some weeping thrown in – and definitely a time to keep silence when grandpa goes to bed.
Rich Samson (1950-2018) RIP