I was adopted into a church family when I was 63, now I'm 66. Julie and Tim, Cheryl and Larry, a guy named Rick, and me. You'd think that people who loved each other would share hijinx of some sort or another. But other than some very rigorous teasing, we're pretty careful and fall on the side of churchiness. You'd think we'd be preachy about ethical sorts of things, but we're not. It's just that in our younger years we wore ourselves out on the dark side. Peace. simplicity, and safety are not over-rated.
Know what I mean?
Well, we're going through Richter-scale change and we're not taking to it lightly. Rick is headed home in a couple of weeks.
Six and a half years ago, Rick left a well-paying, highly technical job in a state an hour's flight from here. It might have left him, I'm not sure of that history. Talk about a lesson in economics. Well, Rick scoured the Western half of the United States for a job and found one here. Something about a well-loved wife, two daughters just starting out, a lovely home, and Gladys, the grandmom. Yet to come, husbands for his beautiful daughters, and some babies.
The loneliness almost overwhelmed him, but it's not in his nature to whine or to live in regret. But there were 24-hour days to fill up. So he did. He became a triathlete and competed in races across the West. At 55 he didn't expect to win very many, but he was fully committed to finishing. The first race nearly killed him. His last race was filled with laughter, mild competition, and great finishes—that means he was still standing at the end. It made Tim so nervous he drank up Rick's two beers, meant for the finish. Had to find some more.
Rick made life-long friends here. The people at the YMCA. He was there 3 times a day. The girls at the front desk hung up an enlarged photo of one of the photo-finishes from his races. Medal and all. His buddies that he shared 80-mile bike rides throughout our rural landscape and great cups of coffee. His friends from work, his department, met some daunting challenges in state government. His next door neighbor, a long, tall guy, and little Mordecai, the most talkative kid on the planet.
And us. We've gotten together once a week for four of those six years. Church. Breakfasts out. Saturday nights. Big T races. Telling our stories. Adopting people who could use a friend. Or six.
Larry is not talking. Tim admits to a few wild tears. Cheryl and Julie are pretty steady, but I'm howling at track races. Choir sings a great anthem? I'm a mess.
I'll be making cookies for the trip home, ones that are fairly healthy because he's careful about what he eats. We love his wife too and understand full-well her sacrifice. He'll have to figure out how his now-full athletic life fits into his family life.
Still and all, our bud is headed north. Traveling mercies.