Dear Hubby meeting his New Best Friend
But...before we headed down to the Ozarks and the church camp we took a little side trip to a tiny town about halfway between St. Louis and Jefferson City. It's the town my husband's father lived in before their family moved to Portland in the early 1940s, where he and his siblings spent a good portion of their childhood. It is a town that's been devastated by the economy and also a major flood of the Missouri River in the 1990s that destroyed many homes and businesses. As Dear Hubby and I drove in on the main highway thru town we didn't know what to expect but we surely didn't expect to find a literal ghost town. About the only businesses we saw that were open were a little convenience store/gas station and a mechanic's garage. We drove around and were so disappointed to begin with, there were so few signs of life. Coming to this little town was a dream come true for Dear Hubby, who'd always wished he could visit someday...and it looked like it was going to be a bust. That is, until we turned a corner and approached a church. There was an elderly lady sweeping the sidewalk there and I said to Dear Hubby, "Why don't you stop and ask her if she might have known your family? She looks about the right age." So Dear Hubby pulled up next to the curb and called out to her. He got out of the car and as he walked towards her he asked her how long she'd lived in the town. "Why, I've lived here all my life!" she told him. "Well, then...I'm wondering if maybe you might have known my Dad's family," he said. She asked what the family name was and when he told her she exclaimed, "You mean Norma and Ray and Russell? Well, yes, I knew them! Norma was my sister's best friend. We used to all go to school and play together!" Oh my word! This was over 70 years ago! To make a long story short, she and Dear Hubby were new best friends from that moment onward. When he told her how thrilled he was to meet her, she told him, "Why, this is such a thrill for me, too! I get to share all these memories of my childhood and have such a nice visit! I never dreamed when I got up this morning that this would happen to me today!" She took us on a tour of the town and showed him the house his dad had lived in as a boy. We went to the old school up on School Hill, to the Pavilion and Park along the Missouri River where they played and went to dances. She remembered everything and at 85 her mind was as sharp as a tack. She invited us into her home and we had a lovely visit there. By the time we left we felt like we'd known one another forever. We couldn't thank her enough for her kindness and hospitality. She told us with a twinkle in her eye as she walked us out to our car when we were leaving, "Why, I wish I'd known you were coming! I would've baked you a cake!" I don't know who had a better time, her or Dear Hubby. It was a very emotional trip for him and it was such a privilege to be a part of his special day, to see how much it meant to him and touched his heart. His grandparents have been gone a long time and his dad, his aunts, his uncles, are all gone now, too, the last of them passing on just a short time before we moved to Michigan. His New Best Friend brought the past alive to him in a way he'd never dreamed possible. I knew his dad and aunts and uncles and it brought them all to life again for me, too. I could just picture them walking the country road to school...swimming in the old water hole...playing in the grassy yard around the old school on the hill. A person hearing this story could say, "What a nice coincidence!" I say, what an incredibly sweet gift from the good Lord. Before we'd gone to the little town, we'd stopped in another one, a kind of touristy-trap place a few miles up the highway. We talked about taking a walk and stopping in some of the antique shops but I had this urge to move on so we hopped in the car and drove on to the little town. If we'd stopped and browsed, we most likely would've missed our opportunity to meet our new friend...she was just finishing up with her sweeping and was getting ready to go home when we pulled up next to her. We could have turned the corner by the church 5 minutes, half an hour later, and missed her completely. It was just meant to be. In my heart there ain't no doubt about it.