The Message Was A Gift I Will Always Treasure

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I have a friend who’d prefer to be behind the wheel than fly anywhere.  I don’t get it. At least when you’re flying, you know the experience of getting to the airport two hours early, getting through security, wondering if the plane will really be on time and anticipating that your luggage isn’t going to make it on the connecting flight is enough to leave you completely exhausted. When you are completely exhausted, sleep comes easily.  If you can sleep through the trip, why would you ever want to bother to drive?

 

A friend who is a residential childcare administrator telephoned me last week and scheduled a meeting with me for this coming Monday morning. He has been in Washington, D.C. this week and he opted to fly, but he is driving from Florida to Austin, Texas.  Is that crazy or what?  Even crazier, when he leaves Austin after visiting with me for a couple of hours, he is heading to Waco for a brief visit at another children’s home and then traveling on to Amarillo to visit another children’s home. That meeting, too, will be a brief visit.  When the visits are concluded, he has to drive back to Florida. Trust me, the distance is more than a hop, skip and a jump.  There is no way I’d make that trip by car.

 

At times, I’ve been delusional enough to have the fantasy of driving across the country.  Of course, springtime and doing it on a Harley sounds much more inviting than being limited to the confines of a vehicle.   All of that falls under the category of magical thinking. There’s no way the General is ever going to give me a nod of approval on purchasing a Harley or anything else with two wheels and a motor.

 

Wednesday night, I talked by telephone with a friend of my brother’s. His name is Dennis. We’ve never met in person, but we’ve exchanged several messages on Facebook over the past several months.  He sent me a message following my Memorial Day posting on Facebook about the impact of my brother’s loss. He wrote:  I am one of the Marines that waited in vain on the flightline for his aircraft to return the day he was lost to us.  As I stand every Memorial day as a member of our VFW honor guard my mind will return me to that day and that flightline and the sense of loss that I feel for Ron and the other brave men our squadron lost. Rest assured that I will never forget him or the others for the rest of my life.  Thank you for stepping forward on Memorial Day and speaking for your brother and for those who served with him and who knew him as a brave man and a compassionate friend.” 

 

I was profoundly touched by his thoughtfulness in reaching out to me. When I received his message, the General and I were having lunch at a quaint restaurant in a small town in Upper State New York.  I remember glancing at my iPhone, reading the message and becoming teary eyed from the content.  The message was a gift that I will always cherish.

 

I recently sent Dennis a private Facebook message asking for his contact information again.  I had inadvertently misplaced it.  I wanted to send him my books. He had messaged me on Tuesday that he had received the books and had already begun to read the one about Ronnie. He said, “I’ll let you know my thoughts after I’ve finished the book”.  I immediately sent a response thanking him for investing the time to read what I’ve chronicled related to my memories.

 

Very early Wednesday morning when he retrieved my message, he inadvertently hit the “call” icon at the bottom of his screen.  Honestly, I haven’t yet looked to see what he was talking about, but I’m curious.  That is the second time within the past couple of weeks that I’ve received one of those calls. The first call was from a two year old playing with his grandmother’s phone.

 

Truthfully, when we talked Wednesday evening, I told him I was sorry that I had missed his call earlier on Wednesday morning. That part is true.  For months I’ve wanted to visit with him by telephone, but for whatever reason, had not initiated a call.  In his first communication with me, he had provided me contact information.  I wanted to call, but I didn’t.  That probably doesn’t make any sense to you.  It doesn’t make any sense to me either.  For one thing, what do you say to someone you’ve never met?  Somehow maybe I thought it would seem awkward. 

 

After missing his call Wednesday morning, I sent him a couple of messages asking for a convenient time to return his call.  After I sent the second message, he telephoned me again. The lengthy conversation that ensued was absolutely delightful.  He said, “I telephoned you early this morning, but I didn’t mean to call.  I was simply reading your message”.  

 

I apologized again for missing his call and told him I was rushing to head out the door to the Metro in Washington.  I feel a little guilty about not being more factual in the progression of “heading out the door” to catch the Metro.  I was running late to get away from my hotel room.  It took me longer to craft Wednesday morning’s blog than I anticipated.  Once getting the blog posted in three different places, I had to shower, dress and hurry out the door.  When the call actually came in, I was between the shower phase and the getting dressed phase.  I looked at my phone when it was ringing and experienced a sense of panic. It was a “Face-Time call”.  There was no way I was answering that call!  Trust me, it would have been awkward for both the caller and me.

 

There was absolutely no level of awkwardness related to Wednesday night’s telephone conversation with Dennis. There was never a pause or even a hint of a struggle for either of us to figure out what to say next. Conversation was easily, spontaneous, and uplifting. Dennis did tell me with a laugh shortly after I answered his call, that my voice sounds so Texan.  I don’t guess I’ve ever considered my voice geographically discernable, but apparently it is.  

 

I now known Dennis well enough that I can affirm that he is an absolutely thoughtful and kind man.  Of course, I had figured that out from his initial message to me on Facebook. Wednesday night’s call reinforced that notion.  In the course of conversation, I know about his family, his faith, his kindness and his favorite mode of transportation.  He likes getting from place to place on two wheels.

 

He has always had a motorcycle.  Actually, he currently has four.  I asked if he was familiar with the book: “Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance”.   He was not.  At face value, the book is the story of a man and his eleven year old son and the things they learned as they traveled across the Northwest part of the United States on a motorcycle.

 

Thursday morning I received a message from my wife’s niece in Houston.  She mentioned that she is enjoying reading “More Than Enough”.  I gave her my books the weekend after Thanksgiving.  She also said she was pleased that I had referenced the book: “Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” It was one of her favorites. I was shocked. I read that book four plus decades ago. I don’t guess I ever thought about the book still being available, but it makes sense. I guess you could say it is a classic.  The book was turned down by125 publishing companies before it was subsequently published in 1974. Over five million copies of the book have been sold.  Who would have thought?

 

As I read her note, I smiled and thought about Wednesday night’s conversation with Dennis, the man who rides motorcycles. It is really nice to have a connection with him. 

 

All My Best!

Don

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