Our yearly anniversary/vacation to the Thousand Islands region in Upstate (WAY Upstate) New York has come and gone.
It is the place where my husband proposed to me, and the continuation of a yearly practice of his childhood. He’d been traveling with his family to the towns of Clayton and Alex Bay since he was 3 months old and never tired of it. He transferred that love of the water and the openness of the area to me.
An avid (read obsessed) boater, he claimed it is the perfect place to unwind, unplug, and just float the days away. I agreed.
The week was filled with rain, sun and laughs, not particularly in that order. It wasn’t until the last day of our vacation that things started to go awry.
Traveling down the roads of his youth, we sat in the old truck which towed the even older boat behind us, reminiscing about the weeks events. As we headed towards home, we remembered the delicious dinners, cook outs, the celebration of our anniversary, tasting and walking through wineries, and spending the time with friends and loved ones all came to mind, laughing until our bellies hurt and realizing it was time to take a break.
Pulling into the service area, we both went about out business and looked forward to getting home.
Except the old truck had other ideas.
My husband turned the key to start it, and nothing. Weird. The radio and lights came on, but not the starter.
Getting under the hood, looking for clues, it looked like it might be the starter. Or the regulator. Or the junction box. Or maybe it was just tired. It is an old truck, after all.
Just as he was getting ready to call for a tow, a man not too far from our ages, pulled up beside us in his equally battered pickup truck.
“Need a jump?” he asked matter of fact, white teeth large and shiny in the sunlight, a contrast to his dark beginnings of a beard framing the rest of his smallish face and slight build, pony tail peeking out behind his head.
“I don’t think its the battery, everything lights up….” my hubby started, but before he could finish our wiry new friend had jumped up and was peering into the engine.
“Have a screwdriver?” he asked.
“Sure.” He had been banging away with a hammer in one hand, and had the screwdriver in the other.
Before we could say anything, our friend bent down and positioned himself under the vehicle. He started banging the hammer, so hard we shook in our seats like on a roller coaster ride.
“Turn the key when I tell you” he yelled and my husband obeyed.
The old truck roared to life.
Our little friend stood up, smiling big once again and handed back the tools.
“This ought to get you home; just don’t turn the truck off if you stop, ok?”
“Thank you, thank you!” we both shouted. “Thank you so much!” My husband fished around in his jeans pocket, looking for some cash to pay him.
“No charge!” he insisted, and shook both of our hands wildly.
“What’s your name?” I asked, thinking I would donate a coffee or something in his name.
“Harold” he answered.
I immediately thought of the column I had written years ago entitled “Love From the Harolds” (read it here) about an old next door neighbor father and son who enhanced my life just by knowing them.
It appeared yet another Harold was a guardian angel of sorts, sent from above.
We thanked Harold again, and he jumped back into his old truck, winking as he stepped on the gas.
As most newly married couples do, we had begun a custom of saying “To First Dates” when we toast each other be it with wine, beer or water. It was a way of acknowledging our beginning, and hoping we would always feel the way we did then. We were anticipating an even longer time until our end.
From now on, we decided we would just toast and say “To the Harolds”
All of them. It seemed only fitting.