“Beautiful sight, isn’t it?” I said.
“Sure is”, quipped the man with a smile as he turned to me.
“We’ve been coming here since our honeymoon – 59 years ago. Much has changed. The resort. The skyline. The buildings. We never get tired of it”, he continued with look of pure joy. “And the weather? In a word, beautiful.”
“We raised our two children in Phoenix, but vacations were always here”, said the woman, who is sitting in a wheel chair.” “That bridge”, she continued, “used to be wooden. I remember vividly walking with the kids, along with our beach stuff, over that bridge to the ocean. Can’t do it today with all of the traffic. “ As if they planned this conversation, he picked up where his wife left off and told me two other stories about his families’ vacations.
“Do you have kids?” she asked. “Yes, four. Ages 20, 17, 9 and 7,” I said. They each began to ask questions about my wife and children with so much loving interest that I thought that these two people could be my long lost relatives. They listened, nodded and hung on every answer.
As I turned to continue on my walk, they thanked me for talking to them. “Life is short”, said the man as he put his head down. “It goes by so quick – in a blink of an eye. Seems like yesterday that mom and I were both able to run and play with our boys. I hope you enjoy your raising family as much as we did.” Small tears began to form in my eyes as I shook his hand to leave.
Even though I know very little about that couple, I do know that they have a strong bond between them. I’m positive that over the 59 years of their marriage, that they experienced times when life wasn’t going as they had hoped. Arguments may have occurred over the kids. Money issues. Whatever. In the end, though, they learned to work it out. Bottom line. They learned from each other. They built a long-lasting relationship.
We spend so much valuable time in this country arguing over everything imaginable from politics to religion to sports that we seldom take the time to stop and engage one another. Relationship building is often overlooked. Instead, who choose to vilify the other side and paint them as the enemy without even trying to hold an honest conversation with them.
As my entry into politics grows stronger each day, I am convinced now more than ever that building strong relationships, even with those who disagree with you, is the way to heal this country that has become bitterly divided on so very many issues. We need to learn from each other, just as I learned from that couple, no matter where they are from.
· BELIEVE that relationship building matters
· ACT by reaching out to someone you have been avoiding speaking with
· SERVE everyone, even the ones you disagree with
More than likely, I will never see that couple again. However, they will always be seen in my mind as a constant reminder to me that relationships matter.