When Tom died I was only 5. From what I have been able to piece together the months following his death were pretty unsettled.
Many people helped our family through the time, none more than The Hudson’s.
Gracie, Newt, Randy, Dixie and Suzanne, our south-Georgia family of choice.
This morning I remembered a couple of road trips with the Hudsons.
Randy was the oldest, like Tom. The two became friends when we moved to Rochelle for daddy to take a job coaching. They grew up together and had a bond, with Randy only slightly older than Tom.
As a child, there was nowhere I liked being more than sitting with Gracie. She was a character and knew exactly how to connect with me.
During the summer, Randy had visited the family in Clayton and it was decided that I would ride back to Gracie’s with him for a few days.
As we drove the few hours from Clayton to Rochelle in Randy’s Volkswagen (I think) he kept me entertained. Like his mother, Randy has always had the ability to weave a tale that not only keeps you entertained but interested in hearing more.
We talked and he kept a little kid entertained the whole drive back.
Closing in on Gracie’s house, Randy informed me that he was ready to get home and was going to take a short cut.
Not knowing where we were I was good with his decision.
There was only one catch…… the short-cut we would be taking was a bit dangerous and only one person could be in a vehicle.
Randy’s solution was for me to get in the floor board of the small car and hide. He would maneuver the twists and turns of the “short cut” and we would be home in just a couple of more hours.
I settled into the floor board and trusted Randy to get us home safely. He gave me a running commentary of “what was going on outside.” The turn left and straight to the next checkpoint, etc etc.
After about 5 minutes in the floor as we traveled the short cut, we made a sharp right and the car came to an abrupt stop.
“Uh-oh, you better get up” was Randy’s pronouncement.
As I got out of the floor board and looked around, the familiar sights of Gracie’s house were sitting in front of me.
It’s funny how memories flood back. As I remembered this adventure today, I also remember traveling from Rochelle back to Clayton in the back of Newt and Gracie’s “El Camino”, in the days before seat belt and booster seat requirements.
Simple acts of kindness and adventure, memories that last a lifetime.