Sometimes all it takes is a phone call from a long lost friend to change a perspective. In this case, it was someone dear from Tennessee who I had not talked to in a long time. For some reason, he said he felt compelled to hear my voice and know that I was okay. Perfect timing, since I was not okay.
In fact, I had been spending the last few days feeling sorry for myself. I was thinking about all the roads I would no longer be able to travel. All the things I wanted to see that I won’t see. All the wonders I would be missing.
It was only a few minutes before we began reminiscing… Laughing and sighing about the times we had shared. The most memorable were our trips to the Smoky Mountains.
His birthday was on July 4 and it became a tradition for me to join his family for a week at their hideaway in Gatlinburg. They introduced me to the Smokies. We hiked, fished, swam and boated all along the Blue Ridge. I learned to string and can beans, smoke fish and eat black-eyed peas and grits. Biscuits with red-eye gravy. We listened to bluegrass music and mountain folklore. There was nothing like it in my life before and has not been since. It was magical!
As we talked, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of gratefulness, not just for the time spent with him.
I took my father on a long weekend to those mountains. He loved it. It was the best time we ever spent together and the last time he really knew me. Shortly after, the Alzheimer’s had progressed and he was lost.
I know I will still yearn for the roads not travelled, but I want to remember all the ones I did. There were many over the years. Old albums filled with pictures sit dusty on my bookshelf. I am taking them down and gently looking at them. There were so many good times. How blessed I am to have had them!