Today’s post is the monthly reflection from the November 2003 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.
Last week I was all ready to sit on my front porch. Except this time, my front porch was to be in the back seat of a shuttle van making its way from the Maui Hyatt to the airport. I had just completed a presentation for the Annual Meeting of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. I thought the van ride would offer some quite solitude as I prepared for the long flight to my next keynote in Philadelphia. The one-hour ride would make for the perfect virtual front porch. I was prepared to be alone mentally, if not physically. I had settled into the van’s back bench when I realized that the two elderly ladies in the row in front of me had different expectations.
Those who know me would say that I will talk to most anyone. But I am not one for striking up two-hour airplane conversations with seatmates. I knew immediately, two strangers had arrived at my front porch and were planning to stick around. Although they were strangers, the warmth of their greeting made me feel like I had just joined up with two life- long friends. I have to admit that I was pleased they were there. They were sisters and had been for at least 80 years. They were on their way to different homes after an 8-day reunion for two in Maui. Their life stories were simple, yet fascinating. Their wit, spirit and love of life, seemed almost misplaced in their more fragile bodies. Having lost their mother, as tender young girls, they knew of the harder side of life. The years and responsibilities of their own families had taken their lives thousands of miles apart. But not on this night. They were together — again. Our conversation was spiced with their memories of years past, that I’m sure they had repeatedly shared with each other throughout the past week. They were grown-up little girls laughing again. One widowed and one caring for her husband in a nursing home. Grandparents of adult grandchildren. Insightful and kind. And curious about my life. I learned enough about their lives to give me insight and they learned enough about mine to give me some advice!
The van ride to the airport was a continual conversation. Except for some brief quite moments. I used these to catch my thoughts. I thought about what they chose to remember and share. I thought about family. I thought about friendship. I thought about the various chapters of life. And now, as I reflect on that van ride, the thing I remember most is what they had ultimately gathered from the good and bad experiences of their journey. They had found what we all need to find on the front porch. Perspective. And a genuine ability to count our blessings!
As I entered that van I saw two elderly ladies. Along the ride I saw family, memories, love and friendship. And when we departed I knew they were no strangers. I had met them before. For they were the angels of Thanksgiving.