Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Life Well Lived


As I mentioned in yesterday's short post, we took the shorter but longer way home. That's not a contradiction: although shorter in miles, it was longer in time. And made longer by the fact that we stopped to take photos.

At an intersection along Route 18 Larry noticed a sign that said "winery." Really? I knew of no winery in Doddridge County, so of course I wanted to find it. We turned and drove a short distance, and, unsure of where we were going, stopped to ask a gentleman working by the road if there was indeed a winery in the area.


That led to one of the most enjoyable conversations I've had in some time. Dale, at 83 years old, was busy cleaning out a building for a friend so that he could tear it down and use the poles it contained to build a garage for his granddaughter. His house had already attracted my attention and my camera; he told us that the home had belonged to his wife's parents and when it came up for sale, he returned to West Virginia to buy it.


Dale and his wife ran off to Virginia to get married when they were very young, and over the years he'd worked at several different jobs including a steel mill and a maintenance worker, eventually moving to Warren, Ohio where they stayed for 22 years. When they returned to West Virginia he started a new career as a bus driver and drove until he was in his mid-sixties, finally taking an early retirement.

But retirement for Dale didn't mean that he stopped working. He is constantly busy with projects, as attested to when we saw him. He and his wife will be married for 61 years on Monday.

We spent 30 minutes in conversation. Dale told us "You people made my day." He certainly made ours. People like Dale are what make West Virginia what it is: they're not afraid to talk to strangers, always interested in learning something new, and don't flinch at hard work. What a man. It was an honor to meet him.

The winery? After another 20 minutes drove, we found it: closed.It's only open on the weekends. But if not for their sign by the road, we would not have ventured up that road, and we wouldn't have met Dale. So the winery did us a service, altough they missed us as customers.

9 comments:

Nessa said...

Very serendipitous meeting. They are the best.

Silly Saturday #7 - Charm or Chores?

Janet, said...

Very interesting. That sounds like something that would happen to us. Charley loves to talk, he could come up to a complete stranger and talk for half an hour, you'd think that he'd met an old friend and was catching up on everything. I love the house in the background.

Susan at Stony River said...

THAT's Dale? He's 83?! A life well lived indeed, or that's some beauty cream he's using--I hope I live to 83, looking half as good and able to build a garage or two for my daughter. Wow. What a great sidetrip; definitely meant to be.

Granny Sue said...

Aren't they, Nessa? The thing is, we need to slow down and let them happen. Too often we're running on a schedule that does not allow time to stop and talk. Unfortunate, because we miss many opportunities to get know interesting people and places in our hurry.

Janet, your Charlie is just the kind of person I like! Friendly and always interested in others.

Granny Sue said...

Yes, that's him! I asked him if I could take a photo and he was happy for me to do so. I will print this article and mail it to him. I don't know his last name, but being in WV, I figure if I mail it to "Dale, big yellow house, New Milford, WV" it will get there.

I want his skin cream too. He looks great.

Maggie and Roger said...

After i have spent some time talking with a stranger I find myself mulling over the conversation we had. I have learned that sometimes folks come into our lives (or we into theirs) for a reason. I always think it over to see if there is a message I needed to hear/learn. I believe at times they are just a present for us to enjoy and to re affirm that folks are generally good. But there have been too many times to count where I heard a well deserved mental spanking or an honest answer to a fervent prayer.

Rowan said...

What a great man and how wonderful to have been married for so long - he certainly doesn't look anything like his age. I've also had many fascinating conversations with strangers met by chance.

Jason Burns said...

This story reminded me of Granny - my great-grandmother on my father's side. She died when I was thirteen, and was she a character! She never saw a stranger, and was never anything but honest (well, maybe a white lie or two).

Back home, we call these folks "the old people". It's not a reflection on their age, but on their lifestyle and times they lived. It's that time period before WWII and the electric age of the 40s and 50s, when nothing was electrified, neighbors knew each other, and what you needed you could pretty much make yourself.

Granny Sue said...

Rowan, he had so much energy too! And sharp as a tack. He'll go for years, I think.

He recalled to me all my older neighbors who have passed on over the years, Jason--that gracious, polite, interested way of meeting people and listening. And knowing that his life, although not a famous one, was a good one.

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