I could write about my day again – my solitary beach walk and swim; our delicious schnitzel dinner; a magical sky at sunset with a rising moon during a kayak ride with my husband; how his mom beat me at Scrabble tonight.
I could tell you about my chores again – the blog work, the sweeping, hand washing our sheets, the stuff that keeps me somewhat occupied during this quarantine in the Philippines as the coronavirus pandemic batters my homeland.
Instead, I want to tell you a small part of my love story.
Part of the Earth Vagabonds love story
As I washed our sheets today, a former colleague and friend called Tedly to see how we were doing. The call sent me down Memory Lane. During mindless washing and rinsing and wringing, I thought a lot about our old days working in Cleveland, Ohio.
I always knew Tedly was a decent guy. He was sexy, chatty, goofy – and intelligent. I was smitten early on. But when I saw a part of his soul in our early years, I realized I would love this man forever, no matter what.
I don’t tell this story often. Only a few people have heard it. But it’s where my head went today when our friend called, and I feel like sharing it here.
About 15 years ago, I went to visit my parents on Long Island. Tedly picked me up at the airport when I returned. It was late, I had to work in the morning, and I couldn’t wait to get home. I was highly annoyed when Tedly told me he wanted make two quick stops on the way. (We were living together at this time; pictured below.)
He said while at work that day, he did a news story about a school district’s imminent cut of free lunches. Tedly’s job was to record the video for the story: the school, the reporter, a family who would be impacted by the cut.
When he opened the family’s refrigerator to shoot video, it was empty. He was shocked. “Ellie, I can’t stop thinking about that,” he told me as he choked up.
The woman’s teenage son was trying for a sports scholarship and she was beside herself with worry about how she would feed him enough to keep him strong through the season. If I recall, she also had a younger child.
Tedly told me he wanted to pick up some groceries and deliver them to this family. He got another person at work who saw the story to kick in a few dollars. He was all set to stop on his way home from his long day.
None of this interested me in the least. I wanted to go home and asked him to drop me off before he did his errands. He pointed out the grocery store and the woman’s apartment were literally on our way home.
I huffed and puffed and thought nothing of this woman, her son’s future, if he was nourished, if her children were hungry. Instead I thought: What about my trying day? What about my need to relax? I said nothing further, but I stewed inside with resentment because my desires were not placed first.
Tedly again told me he couldn’t stop thinking about the family, and he promised the stops wouldn’t take long.
I dragged my feet at the store as he stocked up the cart, we loaded boxes into his car, and he drove to her apartment less than a mile away. I helped carry a box to the door to get it over with faster.
He rang the bell. The woman answered. She saw Tedly and looked confused at why he was there. Tedly said he wanted her fridge to be full.
She sobbed, exclaimed, said she couldn’t take his offer. He insisted. She accepted. She looked relieved once she put aside her pride. Tedly and the woman carried up the boxes – I didn’t go in.
I stood there on the stoop feeling like an ass. In my selfish, ego-centric mind, I had only thought of myself – how my day was long and hard, how I wanted to go home. What I had witnessed was the first time I can remember feeling right-sized by someone I respected.
Back in the car I told Tedly I thought he did a great thing. He downplayed it and said it was no big deal. But to me, it was everything.
These days, Tedly has the same giving nature. That part of the Earth Vagabonds love story continues.
He recently wrote our expense report for April while on quarantine. But he didn’t point out the gift category included a donation he made for local people in Mahahual, Mexico, where everyone is unemployed because COVID-19 halted tourism.
Tedly continues to help people and he doesn’t brag about it; he doesn’t need accolades – he just does it.
I’ve watched his selfless acts over the years so many times, in so many ways – from playing Santa on Christmas Eve 2019 for kids who never saw a “real” Santa, to tipping a taxi driver a few extra pesos, to buying extra food for people we know — just because he can.
Today I join my husband in being of service to others when I can. It feels good. It gives me a certain inner peace that doesn’t come from anything else. And it’s everything.
My husband and Snow
This evening, Tedly dragged the kayak to the water as I floated around waiting for him. I called to him to bring Snow – the puppy I love here at the Hangout Beach Resort.
Tedly scooped up Snow, put her into the kayak, and paddled out towards me. It was the greatest sight I have seen since we’ve been on lockdown: Tedly tanned and toned, smiling and sexy, holding a snow-white puppy, moving the kayak towards me in the water. It melted my heart. We are older, but his giving soul is the same.
We have differences and challenges, and we make mistakes. But in the end, those are nothing, because he’s everything.
I will always love that man, no matter what.
Thanks for reading, “Part of the Earth Vagabonds love story.”
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