My husband Tom , who you know well by now, and I just returned from the most wonderful two day getaway with friends. Our friends, who I will call Husband and Wife, invited us to Florida for a couple of days. They had rented a beachfront condo, in which they would spend their two precious weeks of summer vacation. Each of them works in a profession I consider to be full of stress. Husband has a daily commute of about an hour each way, and Wife has job that never really leaves her cell phone (gotten love technology). She works for a state university and her responsibility is to assist scholar athletes in their academic endeavors. You know, finding classes, discovering their gifts for career choices, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. You get the idea. Day and night, her phone rings and rings, and she always answers it regardless of what, or who, is literally in front of her. Her students are a priority…and apparently, her friends and family are too. How does she do that? So here’s the deal. Husband and Wife decided that, instead of traveling to Italy this summer, they would rent a beachfront condo in Florida, and invite their friends for two or three day installments so that they could treat each one of them to a special pocket of time away from daily life. Tom and I were honored to be on the list. As the date of our arrival approached we kept asking Husband and Wife, “What can we bring? What can we do? “ The response was always the same. “Just bring yourself! Just come and have fun!” So we did. Actually, at the last minute I did clip every herb available in my garden and pack them in damp paper towels and plastic (my dear mother would have breathed a sigh of relief), for I knew that Husband loves to cook, so…….
Anyway, we arrived on Thursday afternoon to find that they had carefully chosen the most beautiful unit with the most beautiful view. Also, as we were ushered into our own little wing, we quickly noticed a vase that looked familiar (from H & W’s living room), filled with Zinnias that looked familiar (from H and W’s garden at home). They had been strategically transported and placed in our bathroom of smoky granite, just to add a little warmth and grace to our stay. At dinner time, Husband began summoning up curried gulf shrimp and ratatouille placed on table settings brought from their own dining room at home. He chopped my home grown herbs with a fancy knife ushered from his drawer in his Louisiana kitchen, and veggies grown in the garden of his own back yard. As I soaked in the entire weekend I began to ponder, what was really going on here? Our dear friends had basically dedicated their own precious two weeks to their friends. Not just us, but others as well and, for H and W, it was not sacrificial, it was simply what they wanted to do. There were loved ones who came and went before us, dear ones who would visit after we departed, new friends thrown in here and there and, my guess is, all would receive the same royal treatment that had been doused upon us. Each tender grouping would feel as though the entire affair had been conjured for their precious companionship, and that was true. Whether it was three women, other couples, or four oddly paired guests, each one would feel like a guest of honor. Each person would feel as though they had just walked into a first class European hotel attended by a staff of many, except, that wasn’t the case. It was purely the innate grace of Husband and Wife that made each person feel exceptional, and that folks, is a rare offering. For, if the truth be told, I cannot say that I would be so selfless with my two week vacation. I cannot say that it would even occur to me to rotate friends through my only private time with my spouse… at the beach. However, these two generous souls did just that. Well, my goodness. We are fortunate to claim them, for I have to confess that I probably would have chosen Venice instead. In Venice someone else would have done the cooking and the flower arranging and the greeting. But in Venice, the number of grateful friends would have been fewer. So here’s to you, Husband and Wife. You have taught me some valuable lessons. Find joy through making others feel special. Find contentment through brightening up the room of a friend. Find peace through cooking a shrimp dish as others are watching and then …then my friends….all is well.