Morning rides on my stationary handcycle have lead to many friendships. On one of those rides just after our move here four years ago, a man walked up and asked me, “How much of that [the riding on the handcycle] do you do?” As another friend says about our chance encounter, “A beautiful way it happened.”
Mr. John Davidson lives near us, and after his four years of naval service during the Korean War, he taught math in Statesville High School. Once when I inquired if he had taught algebra or geometry or calculus, he responded, “No, math! You know, like six times six equals thirty-six.” Math! A discipline too often ignored in today’s educational world. His wife also taught, and they moved to the lake in the early 1980’s and reared three children. Their home and yard reflects the disciplined order of his appreciation for math. While not stuffy or overly ordered, the yard, home, and outbuilding reflect attention to detail, such as the many stones carefully placed around trees, plantings, and the driveway. All is ordered but not rigid. You know! Six times six.
Mr. John, as I know him, recently sold his last sailboat. He first sailed on a Japanese lake while on R&R during the Korean War. His joy of sailing grew from that brief encounter, and he was, until recently, an active sailor on Lake Norman. However, that great equalizer-age- made it necessary to sell his last sailboat, but his passion for it still lives, and he is fond of telling stories of his sailing adventures. During one of my morning rides he walked by and upon meeting Ken, a neighbor who moved here from Rhode Island, discovered their shared love for boating and that they had boated on the same New England lakes. The chatter that morning around the stationary bike was more than I could compete with, so I listened and enjoyed their talk.
While age has curbed the sailing, Mr. John’s age has not affected his operation of his ham radio, and each morning, very early, he is busy talking with his many friends across the globe.
So many events and encounters in life happen by chance. And as I age, I realize more and more how often we realize that whatever happens by chance is often a “beautiful thing.” At the moment whatever “it” was probably did not appear special, but as “it” moved with that great equalizer time, the beauty of “it” blossomed like a Christmas cactus that we can hold dear and, like young Mary, ponder in our hearts.
So, Mr. John, on your 92 birthday, know that I hold your friendship, wisdom, and keen sense of humor close. Your walking by that morning years ago did happen in a beautiful way.