Blog friend Debby often says there are stories all around us. That's the source of many of her blog posts.
Like Debby, I try to keep an ear out for stories and I heard a really good one yesterday.
Our family spent the weekend at Lake Martin, a lake near Auburn, AL where all three of my offspring have gone to school, as well as DIL and DSO. Younger Son is still there and will, God willing, graduate come spring. All the others love to return from time to time, mainly during football season.
So as I said, we were all there over the weekend, for a football game, and Wife, Daughter, DSO and I stayed at a place at the lake. Older Son and DIL were staying with friends nearby and Younger Son, of course, was at his place on campus.
We had a great time. Had dinner with friends Friday night, tailgated and attended the game Saturday, then spend a leisurely morning Sunday before heading out early Sunday afternoon. Love having everyone together.
All of us except Older Son and DIL had lunch together before going our separate ways Sunday. That's where I heard a great story.
There was a good crowd at the place we ate, very much an after-church crowd. There was about a 20-minute wait for a table.
There was a long bench up against a wall on a porch outside the restaurant. We were sitting there when a lady who had obviously been to church stepped out of the door to begin her wait. She looked around and saw that there were no seats so I got up and told her to please take mine.
"No, no, I won't do that. You sit back down."
"Please," I said. "Sit down."
"No, I'm going to stand right here," she said.
"Then you and I are going to just stand here together," I said with a smile, "because I'm not sitting there while you're standing."
She laughed and proceeded to tell friends around her (she seemed to know most of the people there) how this "young man" had offered her his seat.
Of course she had me in the palm of her hand right then and there. I don't get called a young man very often anymore.
She told me Bob, her husband, was in the car "trying to fool with the air conditioner," that it hadn't been working for days. Things had heated up again and it was getting to where they couldn't stand it.
Her name was Barbara and she was about to turn 80. Bob's 81. They have been married only two years, having both lost their spouses years ago. Bob was her minister, "so I knew him pretty well. Or I thought I did.
"You really get to know a person once you're married to him," she said, cocking her eyebrow a bit.
By this time she had sat down on the bench where I had been sitting, next to Daughter. DSO was standing beside me and we were all in the conversation.
Barbara had had a place on the lake for 40 years and she and Bob had just spent the weekend there. She had just put it up for sale. She hated to do it but it was time. She and Bob now live in Opelika, another nearby town, and the upkeep on two places is just too much. They have several children and a number of grandchildren between them and all had agreed it was time for her to let the place go.
(If I were one of those children or grandchildren, I would be doing everything possible to keep that lake house, but maybe there's another story there. I digress).
Bob walked up, hobbling steadily along with the help of a cane, and sat beside her and of course she immediately introduced him and told him about the young man (me) from Nashville who had offered her a seat. By this time she knew a good bit of my story too, how I had three children who had attended Auburn, and that I visited this area from time to time.
(Bob still had not gotten the AC working and was fretting about that, and Barbara told him to calm down, that they could roll down the windows on the way home and let the wind cool them off. It would be fun, she said).
And by this time space on the big bench had cleared and I had sat back down, next to Barbara. She moved over and Bob sat between us.
I asked Bob if he still pastored a church and before he could answer, Barbara said, "Oh that's a great story. Since you're sitting here you might as well hear it."
And I did, of course. Bob was ordained a Baptist minister and preached for many years, but in the early 2000s his wife got Parkinson's disease, which progressed for eight years before she died.
Midway through that, he retired to take care of her. His eyes glistened over as he spoke about her.
"I knew Jane, his first wife," Barbara said. "Lovely lady. He knew my first husband too."
Bob now fills in for two small United Methodist churches and it works out just fine, they both said.
""There's really not much difference in beliefs," he said. "They're very kind to me. I am glad to still be able to serve when I can."
Being a former Methodist and being married to a former Baptist, I know one of the traditional differences between the two is methods of baptism -- sprinkling vs. immersion. I asked Bob what he did about that, and he said he's fine with either, but it is preferred that one of his Methodist brethren take care of sprinkling if it needs to happen when he's on duty.
Younger Son poked his head out the door and motioned to us that our table was ready. I could have waited another half hour.
I told them goodbye and Barbara thanked me again for offering her my seat.
I assured her the pleasure was all mine.