Special People

Late entry for August 4.

Monday morning was a typically hot, humid, central-Florida morning. I was happy I had loaded the Honda on its trailer the night before, as I didn’t want to be doing it in the sun and getting all sweaty. (It was bad enough just getting in the truck!)

My first stop was lunch with Rick Fairchild, one of my mentors when I was in Amway. He had suggested we meet at the 4 Rivers Smokehouse (https://4rsmokehouse.com/). From the name of it, I was a little concerned that I might be underdressed (wearing a t-shirt and jeans), but I needn’t have worried. It’s a picnic-bench, finger-food kind of place, and I fit right in. We had a delicious lunch (I had a BBQ sandwich, with cole slaw and potato salad, and sweetened iced tea) and good conversation. Afterward, we stopped by the Sweet Shop for a take-home dessert, and I asked for a brisket to take with me. When they explained that a brisket is 7 – 8 pounds, I revised my request down to “2 pounds of brisket, please?” It’s now sitting in my refrigerator here at home, waiting for its chance to nourish me tonight.

Rick’s wife, Toni, couldn’t make it, so after lunch I followed Rick to their house. I wasn’t able to stay long, but we chatted for a short time before I headed north. They had thought I was flying in for the Stalker reunion, so they prepared a “care package” for me to take back. It consisted of 2 cans of XS Energy Drinks, 2 bottles of Perfect Water, and a couple of mix-with-water nutrition supplements, all packed in a collapsible six-pack-size cooler.

Rick and Toni are special folks, and I’m very proud to call them friends. They are at the Diamond level in Amway, which is a big deal, yet they have always made time for others. I’m sure you know the saying about two types of people who enter a room: One type says “Here I am!” and the other type says “There you are!” Rick and Toni are definitely in the second category. [Side note: In Amway, or any mentoring system for that matter, you’re always advised to emulate your mentor if you want to duplicate their success. While I never got to their level in the Amway business, I always joked about “duplicating my upline” after *my* Toni and I got married.]

My next (planned) stop was at the Stalker family farm for the night, in Quincy, FL. The world had other plans, although it was actually only (“only”, he says) an hour’s delay. There was “an emergency situation” according to a temporary traffic sign. The “situation” backed up all three lanes of I-75 northbound for at least 8 miles (that’s how far I crawled in 1 hour, but I’m sure it was ultimately a longer backup than that by the time it all cleared up), but when I got to the scene, all that remained was a trio of Sheriff’s vehicles sitting on the side of the road.

So I got to the farm about an hour later than originally anticipated. Fortunately, Toni’s mom is an expert at holding dinner – in fact, she didn’t even really start it until I arrived. There were five of us at the meal – Ma, Mary (Toni’s boss when she worked at the Quincy dialysis clinic), Jim (Toni’s brother), Victoria (Jim’s partner), and me. Mary brought brownies for dessert; unfortunately, I forgot to snag any of the leftover ones when I left the next morning.

After dinner I gave Mary a copy of the slide show we had used at Toni’s memorial service, and we had a great evening of conversation. (I’ve noticed that happened a lot on this trip.) Ma told a story about Toni and a family dog (Penny), where Penny wouldn’t let anyone near Toni but would let Toni eat her (Penny’s) dog food without complaint. The story itself was much longer, of course, but I found myself wishing Toni were there so I could see her reaction to it. I think she would have either been laughing or telling her mother to stop – or both. Probably both.

So that was Monday, August 4 – a day spent with special people.

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