Today I’m thinking about the human landscape of this journey. In particular, I’ve had the pleasure of spending quality time with four good men, all of whom have enriched my travels immensely.
MY BROTHER DICK
What a great guy! He is everything a brother should/could be – loving, fun, playful, creative, brilliant. He writes the most amazing humor pieces (wish I could get him to publish his letters). He plays music. He can make absolutely anything with his hands – the ultimate craftsman. He cooks fabulous meals. He has been happily married to his lovely Marnie, for ~35 years, and is a super-Dad to his 3 boys. Although he is an actual twin to my brother, Hunt, I often feel as if Dick and I are really the twins. Our DNA seems to vibrate in synch. I love it when he phones me early in the morning and asks “are you working on the crossword puzzle?” and I am, and he is too! Obviously I adore him!
MY COUSIN JOHN
This one I’ve known all my life too. I went to his and DJ’s wedding when I was 11 years old, and they are still happily together. John spent his professional life as a counselor/therapist, working for VA hospitals and local clinics. He is a wonderful listener, and his compassionate heart seems to always be open. What is so striking now is that, although retired, he lives a busy and full life giving to his community. He volunteers on all sorts of projects, is active in his church, spends quality time with each of his grandchildren (such as taking them on wonderful vacations), plays golf, and knows all about everything in his area of North Carolina. He lives a truly exemplary life, and has fascinating stories which he shares with a twinkle in his eye. It was delightful to reconnect with him.
OUR FRIEND BEN
I know him the least well of all these four men, but so much enjoyed deepening my friendship with him and his firecracker wife, Dee. Ben is a passionate and romantic man. The story of how he and Dee found and lost and found each other again is one of the most moving love stories I’ve ever heard. They are devoted to each other with such intensity, and Ben has been an amazing and supportive father to Dee’s two children (now teenagers). He is deeply engaged in the arts (theater, writing, film), a superb cook, and a riveting conversationalist. I loved watching him fill his back patio with candlelight, just for the pleasure of how beautiful it was! Now there’s a romantic guy!
In Grand Junction, Mark is best known for having started the highly successful Main Street Bagel Bakery. There, his creative talents are apparent everywhere – in the design and layout of the building, the choice of menu items, the attention to high quality, the superb food, the music, the inviting atmosphere, the cheerful staff. Mark loves to keep improving, and this work he has chosen lets him do that. My history with Mark goes back almost 30 years. I’ve been close friends with his wife, Missy, since our children were all little, and she and I were just young mothers struggling along. Mark, in those days, worked as a stone mason (did beautiful work), but had little to say to me. He seemed shy and shut down back then, and I didn’t know how to talk to him. Over the years, I have grown to treasure my friendship with him. Like a fine vintage wine, Mark just keeps on getting better and better. He is open and aware, kind and generous. When I come to visit, he welcomes me with such warmth and sweetness, and it is very genuine. His passion is music, and he plays his guitar for fun, and is getting a band together. He loves animals, has a great sense of humor. He is a great athlete and outdoor adventurer. He grows more handsome all the time and stays in great shape. He is a courageous risk-taker, and a truly fine man in every sense.
Men – sometimes you’ve gotta admire them!