Here’s a “might have been” story from my past, fifty years past. It takes place in late May or early June of 1965. There’s no message here, just a little of Grandpa B’s history and maybe a little impetus for reflection.
I had just completed my sophomore year at Aurora College and my friend, Ken, who had come there from Maine, was looking for someone to share driving chores so he could go home for a few days before returning to a job in Illinois. I was twenty years old and had basically never been anywhere so I jumped at the chance. Our route took us across Canada so I even got to leave the country for the first time; and then added the states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to the few Midwestern states I had already visited or lived in. Driving straight through, trading drivers whenever one of us got too tired to continue, took about twenty four hours.
Seeing new places and hearing different regional accents were wonderful, as was seeing the ocean for the first time. I still have among my mementos a piece of granite the size and shape of a baseball that I brought home from my day at the ocean.
My friend had a younger sister, Lois, who was just days away from graduating from high school. She played hooky (skipped school if you are unfamiliar with “hooky”) for one of the days Ken and I were there. I actually don’t remember any of the things we did that day other than riding around in Ken’s car seeing the local sights which were mostly pine forests and potato fields.
Late in the day as we were heading back to the little town they lived in I found her hand in mine, feeling as though it really belonged there. I remember looking at her and seeing her smiling and wondering why. I knew I was feeling especially good but wasn’t sure what was prompting her mood.
Two days later Ken and I were on our way back to Aurora, she and I never so much as shared a kiss, and I never saw her again. We did exchange a few letters and in one of them I asked her why she had been smiling so that night. Her answer was that she had been feeling as I had and that holding my hand had been special for her just as it had been for me. In time, we each went on in our own directions, but I still think of her some times and may still have the one photo I took of her tucked away with some other memories.
There is nothing that would induce me to trade the life I have had for any other, or even to wish that I could. It is simply pleasant to reminisce and maybe spend a few minutes thinking of what “might have been.” I hope life has been as good to her as it has been to me.