Superdawg is back home guarding the homestead along with my son and his family, while Big Mama and I are on a road trip this weekend. It is one taken for a sad occasion -- the loss of her beloved cousin, Ollie, who passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 92. He would have celebrated his 93rd birthday next month on the same day as our wedding anniversary. To my Dear Wife, he was like a big brother who was always dispensing good cheer, kindness, and down-home wisdom.
Ollie Merritt was a member of the Greatest Generation, a World War II veteran, and lifelong farmer -- truly the salt of the earth, a great man of the kind who were, and are, the backbone of our nation. Despite my respect for him, I wasn't keen on making the long drive from coastal South Carolina to central North Carolina for the funeral, to tell the truth. That's really on me -- I just dread going to funerals; there have been a number I should have attended throughout my adult life. But then when I told DW about Ollie's passing, I came to understand how vitally important it was to her to come to the funeral. Superdawg confirmed that to me when she rushed to DW's side immediately to offer her furry comfort when DW began crying upon hearing the news of the death of her beloved cousin.
So we made the drive -- and a minor sidelight is that it was another passed test for my bionic knee. I hadn't driven more than an hour at a time since my April total knee replacement, and this drive took five hours with just a few stretching breaks. The knee feels fine.
The real adventure was when we got in the traffic mix in the Raleigh/Durham area (which reminds me of the Washington Beltway, sorry Tar Heels) and on an unfamiliar parkway in search of the exit for the countryside. At precisely that point came a heavy rainstorm, bringing torrents so heavy that I could barely make out the exit number. At times I was afraid we were going to be swept off the road, or nailed by some impatient driver who refused to slow down for the elements.
Ah, but when we broke through and were heading at last toward Ollie's homestead, the most gorgeous, largest rainbow I have ever seen appeared in the sky and remained for a longer than usual time. It was right over the tobacco fields and other farmland that Ollie cared for so diligently for so many years. Was the timing of the rainbow just an atmospheric phenomenon or a spiritual sign from above? It is hard for me to believe it was mere coincidence.
Finally, we made it to our Days Inn in a small NC town and we encountered what must be the latest in fitness regimens in the hospitality industry. Although our room is on the second floor, the motel offers no elevator service. So on top of surviving a mega-storm, we two cane-carrying elders endured a test of physical fitness. This time no rainbow appeared. Maybe we should award each other colorful badges.
© Robert G. Holland 2013
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