It is well with my soul

First the travelogue: Our first Sunday of retirement found us waking in St. Regis, Montana with no knowledge of whether or not area churches were meeting face to face. We decided to make it a travel day, knowing that we could catch up on worship online. From St. Regis, it is a long uphill pull to the top of Lookout Pass. There were whips of clouds in the mountains and it was very beautiful as we pulled over the top and headed down to Mullan Idaho. The Idaho side of the pass has a brand-new and very smooth road. It didn’t take us long to reach Lake Coeur d’Alene and soon we were in Post Falls and caught up in the Spokane traffic. Spokane traffic on Sunday Morning isn’t very intense. We turned onto US Highway 2 at Spokane and, after a quick stop for fuel were headed across the prairies and wheat farms of eastern Washington. We stopped for lunch at coulee city, having “gained” the hour entering the Pacific Time Zone at the Idaho border. Another quick stop at Wenatchee to pick up a few cherries from a fruit stand and a short walk in Leavenworth and we were on the uphill pull of the Cascades. Stephens Pass had snow in sight on the ski hill. At that point, we knew we were going to go the rest of the way to Mount Vernon that day. On the downslope, we suddenly came upon a traffic snarl. There were so many cars coming down the pass that when they got to the traffic lights at Gold Bar and on down the road, the traffic backed up. It was stop and go for more than an hour. At times were would get going 25 mph or so and then it would all stop. Finally the traffic cleared and we were able to resume our normal speeds just shy of Everett. From there it was a short drive up to Mount Vernon, where we backed the camper into its parking place between the chickens and the woodshed.

Despite our pledge to stretch the trip into four days of travel instead of our usual three, we ended up making the trip in three days. Our first day was 400 miles to where my sister lives. Our second day was shorter, but our third ended up being the longest day of driving. Even at that pace we managed to walk several miles and keep up with our other routines.

It was a special treat to arrive at our son’s place on Father’s Day. I couldn’t help but think of my father, who taught me to drive, and Susan’s father, who taught me the electrical repair skills that enabled me to get our camper ready for the trip. I thought also of how much being a father has meant to me and how grateful I am to have been able to have children in my life. And I thought of what wonderful fathers our son and son-in-law are. One of the great luxuries of our life is the knowledge that our grandchildren are being raised in loving and caring families.

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We went for a short walk after supper. Our three-year-old granddaughter took my hand and led me along the path, talking constantly as we walked. I couldn’t suppress my giggle at her commentary. The world looks different when you are shorter than the grass and weeds alongside the trail. You notice the clover flowers and the buttercups and other things that are lower than my sight line. Aided by her commentary I took delight in a slower pace and a delightful view. It seemed as if half of her sentences began with “Look, grandpa.” The other half began with “Tomorrow we will . . .” She seems to have a large agenda for today.

We wake this morning to new sounds. There are different birds in this area. The chickens aren’t stirring yet, but they soon will be. Chickens being chickens, there is still one rooster in the mix. They didn’t intend to raise a rooster and they are looking for a new home for the bird, but despite appeals to the neighbors and a poster at the co-op, they haven’t yet found anyone to take the bird. They don’t want to be annoying the neighbors. So far, however, we haven’t heard a peep from the chickens who are a very short distance from our camper.

One week in, retirement hasn’t yet become a lifestyle. It feels much more like we are just on vacation. I’ve been ignoring my email a bit more than usual, but other than that, it is pretty much life as usual. I went to bed quite tired last night after all of the driving, but it was a good feeling to have traveled so far without any problems with the truck or camper and a great feeling to be with our children and grandchildren.

Just going for a walk with our 3- 5- and 7-year-old grandchildren reminded me of something about the pandemic that I have really been missing. Our job at the church, in its pre-pandemic state, gave us lots of opportunities to be with children. We had the children of the preschool in our building every day and the children of the church on a regular basis. The pandemic pushed us into a world of physical distancing and of children staying at home. That meant that we oldsters didn’t get to be with them. It left a real hole on my life.

I know that there are different types of personalities, but I am a person who really enjoys being with those who are a different age than I. Community, in my mind, is a gathering of all ages from infants to elders. I am used to people trueing me to hold their babies and listen to their children. I’m used to sitting with children during fellowship hour and listening to their stories.

Last night it seemed like a huge luxury to be able to read stories to our grandchildren. It reminded me without a doubt why we have been moving our life in this direction.

Many more adventures lie ahead, but for now being in this place, with these people, is good for my soul.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!