The other day I was talking with someone and we hit on the topic of fond memories with people who are not here anymore. It was fun to share some memories about someone that we each knew, and a he said that one day he had spent with my Grandpa’s brother was one of the best days he could remember.
Over the time since, that phrase “best days” has been popping into my mind over and over again. We all have “best days” that we can remember. How many of them can a person have? Well, I guess that is up to the kind of person that you are. If you have a mega catalog brain and are willing to categorize and weigh each of them accurately according to some scale, then I guess you could have a bunch. Me, I think I would be willing to come up with a top 5-10.
As a believer, I would place the day of my salvation as #1. (Don’t worry folks, we aren’t going to go through all 10) After that would come the day I got married, the days my kids were born, a couple of special trips that we have taken as a family… You know, the things you would expect. But this conversation with my friend brought back a memory of a day that was definitely one of the best I have ever had.
I was about 12-13 years old when my Grandpa – the handsome fella at the top – called and asked me if I would like to take a trip the next day. His brother, Thad, had a job as a driver for the local car dealer, and he was going to be taking a car from Kalkaska down to the Detroit area and swap it with another vehicle. He said it was just going to be a down and back and I was welcome to come if I wanted to. I was in.
The next morning they picked me up and we headed into town. When we got to the car lot I was impressed to see that we would be taking a Camaro on our trip. Obviously I had to sit in the back, but this was actually the best seat in the car for this ride because I had the opportunity to watch and enjoy the ride.
Both men were in their mid to late 60’s at the time, retired, and in my young eyes, well… old. As I write this I am smacked with the fact that my Dad is about the same age now as my Grandpa was then. He doesn’t seem that old. I don’t think this means I am getting old or anything like that. (My friend Ray is working on a snide comment right now about my age.) Anyway, back to the story. These were a couple of guys that I had never seen outside of a certain realm. They were family patriarchs. Serious. Determined. Not given to foolishness or immaturity.
I had never seen them in a Camaro.
As we headed south they just talked about the stuff of life. Before long I could tell that I had kind of faded into the background. Not in a bad way, but they were engaged in quality relationship with each other. Looking back now, I would say it was less sibling and more friendship. They talked about life as retirees, health issues, financial concerns, and a lot of other stuff. As the miles rolled on, I saw them less as a pair of old men, and more as a couple of guys that I wanted to be around.
That just grew after we stopped for gas at one point. Uncle Thad was getting ready to pull out into traffic and the traffic was heavy. Grandpa commented on the small holes in traffic and said something along the lines of, “If you’re ever going to get out of here you’re going to have to stop driving like an old man.” I’ll never forget what happened next.
Uncle Thad looked over at him, smirked, looked back at me and said, “Might want to grab somethin’.” Then he gave a quick look left and right and punched it. That Camaro jumped out of that driveway like it was on fire. We shot across the first two lanes and when the front bumper hit the left turn lane he finally spun the wheel left. That threw the car into a four-wheel drift that slid us through the left turn lane , across the first lane and into the outer lane and then we were gone.
As I picked myself up off the floor of the car – I hadn’t listened to Uncle Thad’s advice – I heard them both hooting and laughing like a couple of crazy kids. From that point on, the day changed. These two retired grandfathers not only spent the rest of the day goofing with each other, they also brought me into the goofing as well. I had never seen these men laugh that much and seem so at ease.
The trip home had its own adventures as we drove back in a standard cab truck. We were all scrunched in the cab together. Elbows were thrown back and forth, and with me being the (barely) smallest I was riding the hump so I had them talking to me and over me the whole trip back. We also nearly ran out of gas. The truck had dual tanks and they had told Uncle Thad it was full when we left, but apparently that meant one tank – the smaller tank. When he hit the switch to the other tank it was bone dry. We made it in on fumes.
A few short years later our family lost both of those men in a very short period of time. Grandpa died of a heart attack and Uncle Thad from liver cancer. It was a tough year that started with the loss of my Grandmother as well. I’m so thankful for the memories I have of all of them. They were great people, and they taught me so much.
I’m getting older now (Ray! Let it go!), and I am starting to look at some of the things I do a little differently. While I like to be alone, I am starting to want to spend more time with people – especially one-on-one or two. I think it is because that is where life happens the best. It is the most real because when you have few people, there is just less junk in the way. You get to see more of who a person is, see their heart, and connect.
This is another of those areas I want to be relentless in. It is not always easy for me to make new friends, or to open myself up to people I don’t know. I relate well, but I tend to back off and maybe miss out on a good relationship because the other person has walls that I either can’t see a way around or don’t have the energy to scale. I’m working on that.
So, Dear Reader. I have two challenges for you.
- Find someone to share a bit of your life with. Take a step and do it. I’ll admit, my Grandpa taking the time to ask me to go for a ride was not a huge step for him, but it might be for you! The point is, DO SOMETHING! Make an investment – especially in someone younger than you. We all sit around and talk about how today’s youth doesn’t seem to understand how things used to be and they don’t act the way we would like them to. Well, take some time with them and see what you can both learn and teach – try to learn at least as much as you teach.
- This is a request for me. I like stories, and I would love to hear what one of your best days was. If you would like to share a best day, please do so in the comments below.
Thanks again for reading. I am just sharing a bit of me. Take all you want!
In HIS Grip,