A trip to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania this past weekend restored my belief that there are still good people out there, that God does have a plan that will amaze us and he always puts special people in our paths.
The trip started out like any other. It was Friday evening and there were several of us in a van headed north on Interstate 95.
About an hour into the ride, the van gave a “beep-beep” warning — which was promptly ignore by Tammy, who owned the van and was driving. Nobody else seemed to notice or be worried … except me. Vehicles are programmed to “beep-beep” ONLY when there is trouble brewing. Accompanying the “beep-beep” was a message stating, “charging system failure.”
Several moments later, it went “beep-beep” again. Same reaction throughout the van.
This went on for a while until Tracy, who is Tammy’s sister and whose husband Tim couldn’t make the trip, noticed the air-conditioning was not cooling. Then the radio went out. Then the cell phones stopped charging. Finally, everything — including the engine — stopped.
Battery … dead.
To the shoulder we went. In the middle of nowhere, with dark quickly approaching. Cars and trucks whizzed past as we started calling anyone we could think of. We were apparently somewhere short of Wilson and were having no luck with an auto parts store and the State Highway Patrol referred us to a towing company that wanted $140 just to pull us to the nearest oasis.
Then Tracy made the phone call that basically saved the trip. She called Tim, who was in Rocky Mount on some business with his daughter — the reason he couldn’t come on the trip. He would purchase a battery and meet us.
Moments later, a truck pulled up with two Good Samaritans from Wilson, Pam and Greg Creech, who wanted to help. They gave us a jump and said they had passed by earlier, saw us and decided to come back. Wow. Who does that anymore? And what did they want in return? For us to “pass it on.” No problem.
So it was on the road again to the next exit, where Tim was waiting with the engine’s pacemaker. He got it installed and, after some sincere thanks all around, we were again on our way north — a trip that concluded at about 6 a.m. at Otter Lake in the Poconos, where about 15 people were meeting up for a weekend of fun, food, relaxation and a specific mission I wasn’t yet totally aware of.
That mission was perhaps the most memorable part of trip.
It was scheduled for noon on Saturday. In a cemetery.
After a couple hours of sleep, the travelers from North Carolina awoke and joined the rest of the group, most of whom hailed from Long Island but some who were from the Tobyhanna, Pa., vicinity. We caravanned out to a nearby cemetery and gathered at a grave site for Dolores Willett, who passed away in 2012, and I watched as her husband of 60 years, whom I came to know as “Pops,” stood solemly gazing over the marker.
About then, “Pops’” daughter-in-law Donna talked about how Dolores would have been pleased to see everyone gathered together and asked “Pops” if he’d like to say something.
I didn’t know his wife, and I barely had met “Pops,” but the love that oozed from him as he softly spoke to her was palpable for the next few moments. He told his wife how much he missed her, how he’d nearly come to join her recently but it was “just a close call” and that he knows she is watching over the family. It was so touching that I found myself quietly adding my own “rest in peace.”
From there, the family and friends retreated back to Otter Lake for a memorial lunch and a gathering around the campfire for reminiscing and laughter.
Over the next 24 hours, I was able to talk more with “Pops” and the rest of the group, as well as learn the game of Rummy Cube. It’s a trip I won’t soon forget, and it feels like I made some new friends.
I even managed to see something I hadn’t seen in years: chipmunks. Awesome little creatures.
— W. Curt Vincent is the general manager and editor of the Bladen Journal. He can be reached by calling 862-4163 or by email at email@example.com.