By David J. Griffin, Times Reporter
Summer vacations were never a part of my childhood in Mt. Vernon – basically, they were a luxury that we could not afford. As a matter of fact, the only time I can remember traveling out of state with my family was when my parents took us to the Smokey Mountains when I was probably four years old. Travel was considered an extravagance.
My wife, on the other hand, was accustomed to annual vacations, and so we have taken some sort of trip each year since we married. At first, our trips were modest in proportion, but over the years that changed. For example, my son Andy moved his family to Ann Arbor, requiring us to travel to Michigan just to spend time with our grandchildren. Now they are in Philadelphia, and we wish they were back in Michigan.
The grandest vacation that we ever had was in 1994 when we took a driving tour of Alaska. Our son Todd had just been killed in an automobile wreck two years before, and we were still dealing with the grief. The trip was another step in healing and trying to move forward with our lives.
Kathy spent almost a year planning the routes we would take and the stops we would make along the way. Until that time, neither of us had been out west so we naturally wanted to see as many sights as we could. Once our plans were complete (and with the blessing of the Lord – another whole story in itself), we notified our families and our employers that we would be gone for six weeks.
Our plan was to take two weeks to drive to Alaska, two weeks to tour that magnificent state, and two weeks to make the trip home. I must give her credit for the wonderful agenda she prepared.
We purchased a new GMC Conversion Van for our trip and, with the help of my friend Jerry Willis, I converted the van to accommodate some camping so we would not have to spend each night in a hotel. The trip that Kathy planned allowed us to camp for a few nights and then spend a couple of nights in a hotel washing clothes and catching up on the national news on television. It turned out to be a great plan.
All of the above is merely a preface to the rest of the story.
Before we were to depart, I was visiting with my friend Wayne Berryman, who owned B&B Auto Parts in Stanton. I told him about our plans, and he told me to come back to his store a couple of days before I left. I politely said I would be back and went on my way. He knew what we were going to drive, and Wayne had a plan.
A couple of days later, I received a call from him. He said, “Don’t forget to come in before you leave on your vacation.” I told him I would be there the next day.
The following morning, I stopped in and Wayne pointed to a large box sitting on the counter. He said, “Dave, I have been thinking about your trip, and I fixed you an emergency package to take with you.” Inside the box was every fuse, belt, hose, spark plug, and emergency item that anyone could ever possibly need. I was overwhelmed by his thoughtfulness.
He asked, “Will you take a tool kit with you?” I answered yes, and he added, “If you have the tools and the parts and you break down on your trip, I imagine someone will come by who can make the necessary repairs.”
I asked Wayne what I owed him, and he said, “When you get back you can pay for the parts that you had to use.” I had never experienced such a generous and wonderful gesture. Wayne could have made good-sized profit by selling me those parts, but instead he was demonstrating the kind of friendship that I personally believe one only finds in the “mountains.”
Kathy and I put 10,600 miles on that van within the next six weeks and never had to worry for one minute about what might go wrong mechanically with our vehicle. At that time, the Alaska Highway still had more than 200 miles of unpaved road. That road, as well as others along the way, was not easy on vehicles of any kind.
But guess what – we did not have to use a single part that was included in Wayne’s emergency kit. When we returned home, I took the package back to Wayne’s store and thanked him for his kindness. We remained friends ever since.
Wayne passed away from a heart attack on Friday, August 28, 2009. You know that old saying: “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” I am sorry that my friend Wayne is gone, but I have no doubt that the good Lord has already commended him for his kindness to people like me – because Wayne was a “FRIEND INDEED.”
(You can reach me at email@example.com or you can drop me a line at P.O. Box 927 – Stanton, KY 40380. I appreciate your suggestions and comments.)