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  • I was heading west on route 66, making my way to my Sunday morning food pickup run. I was running on less than four hours of sleep, but I knew that energy is a decision, and I was making that decision to show up for whatever life had in store for me this day, knowing the energy would be there to not just make it through it, but to really live it. I don’t have the time nor the inclination for anything less than this, these days. Life is way too short to just mail it in for a day. I’m in it for real, and I want it to count.

    As I rolled west, I heard it like a distant rumbling thunder, rolling east, towards me, like waves in the ocean, steadily growing louder as I went. Off in the distance, on the horizon, emerged the lights, then the glorious spectacle of the Rolling Thunder – it stretched on for miles, motorcycles of all shapes and sizes, roaring on this early Sunday morning towards the capital, where they were all descending from all different directions to pay respects for those missing and dead, my fellow veterans of wars past and present who paid the ultimate price. I lowered my window and raised my left arm high in the air, saluting their commitment, their mission to honor those left behind, their dedication to remember, until they had all passed me by. I no longer felt like I needed to conjure up any energy – it was there, and I was charged.

    A good thing, too. All of my stores had a ton of food for me that morning, as I nearly doubled my highest haul, to date. My first couple of months doing these food runs, I was averaging about 450 pounds of donated food each week. About a month and a half ago, as more produce started showing up, the weekly haul shot up to 600 – 900 pounds of food a week. This morning, after I weighed it all in and tallied it up, I had obliterated my previous record of 894 pounds – I’d jam-packed that van with 1,535 pounds of food for the families in need. I was a little worried that I’d overloaded the van, and took great care on my turns, as I didn’t want to topple it over. It took me over an hour just to off load it and put it away back at the warehouse – that’s usually about a twenty minute deal.

    Back home, I cleaned off the car port and set up the grill, as we got ready for our cookout. Kathy had already done a lot of prep work, getting the food ready, so all I had to do was cook it up on the grill, an activity I enjoy, once I get started. We’d invited our next door neighbor’s nephew and wife, and old tennis partner and her partner, over for burgers, dogs and chicken later. They were down in town, enjoying the Viva Vienna activities, the big Memorial Day celebration that happens every year here in Vienna. We had opted to miss the crush of humanity that that usually was, this year, and just enjoy the company of whoever happened by for our cookout, and just enjoy the quiet and each other, if no one did.
  • I did doze off once or twice while I rocked and swayed in my sky chair, reading an incredible account of the Battle of Gettysburg, catching a power nap or two until it was time to fire up the grill.

    Everyone showed up and I got cooking, and we got caught up on our neighbor Joe’s life since he left Vienna, Virginia, for Austria, nearly a year ago. I knew that Joe had been some sort of a patent attorney for some company for years, but did not realize that he was actually quite the inventor, himself. It turns out that he had invented the first “pop-top” soda cans, back in the sixties or seventies, the first ones where the the pop top stayed on the can, among many other inventions.

    He was the only one in his large family (nine siblings) who had gotten out of the village they all grew up and lived in, the great inventor who went to America. Now, he was back home among his family, and from all the pictures, and even a video we were treated to, he appeared much happier than we’d ever known him to be. He had become a reluctant shut-in his last few years here, after he’d suffered a stroke, and the last year or two, we’d grown increasingly concerned for him. His nephew Tomas had finally convinced him to return to their village in Austria, and we’ve been taking care of the yard until they get around to selling the house.

    It was such an enjoyable evening, learning all about Joe’s life, his whole family, and just having the company of his nephew and wife, and his old friend, Anne and her partner. Joe had been a great neighbor to us for many years, but we learned more about him in one evening than we’d learned in seventeen years as his neighbor.

    Later in the evening, we finally got to try out our new swim spa out back, to cap off a spectacular Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend.
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