So many times we go through life complaining and griping about things that are so petty. Luckily for me, Cindy is a pretty steady ship and can keep me grounded and humble on many occasions when I complain or forget how lucky I really am. Yesterday afternoon, I was smacked in the face with a reality so eye opening that it literally brought tears to my eyes.
It was a beautiful Sunday here in Cedar Key. We had been very busy with a full motel and full RV’s for the past few days straight, which isn’t normal for this time of year. I was spending the afternoon cleaning up the tiki bar and organizing the cords and cables from hanging a few new televisions. Cindy was busy cleaning the motel rooms and doing her own thing.
Walking into the house to get a tool I needed, I thought I heard someone in the office and walked up there to see who it was.
An older gentleman was standing there looking at our Post Cards and introduced himself. “Hello, my name is Kent” he said with a big, genuine smile.
He asked about availability and what our RV sites offered as he’d be returning in February for the air show in Sebring. We sat talking for a few minutes as he asked about the motel and how long Cindy and I had been working here. He asked if we owned it and who we purchased it from, which are very typical questions that most visitors ask us.
Kent then asked “Do you mind if I tell you a little story about this place?”
I said ‘Sure, I love hearing different stories about this place.”
He took a deep breath and started his story “Back in the 90’s, my wife and I were ready to move out of California. We were tired of the rat race and wanted to settle down. We were searching around for small business opportunities and found this small motel listed on the internet. We called and spoke with the owner at the time who’s husband had just passed away and she said it was too much for her to handle on her own and she was finally ready to retire.
We talked back and forth for weeks about the motel and Cedar Key in general. My wife and I talked non-stop about what it would be like to own our own little motel on a tiny island in the Gulf of Mexico. We had big plans for settling down and just living out life together without all the stresses of California and corporate jobs. We were so excited and energized about the prospect of it and it was one of the happiest times for both of us.
We were ready to fly out here and put an offer on the table. I mean we had our plane tickets and everything. But then she had a stroke and was in the hospital recovering. A few weeks later she had a second stroke and died.”
I was confused because Mrs. McKneely, the woman who was selling the place because her husband had just passed away is still alive and living in ‘The Villages’ in Central Florida. I had just heard that she had celebrated her 92nd birthday a few months back.
“I think you’re confused, Mrs. McKneely is still alive and living here in Florida” I said to Kent.
He looked at me with big, welled up eyes and said “Mrs. McKneely didn’t die, my wife did!”
I was floored. It was like someone had just kicked me in the stomach. The story he had been telling me up to this point was the equivalent of hearing mine and Cindy’s story with the same thoughts and dreams we had when we were first getting ready to move here and were so excited about this place.
I’m sure he could see the shock on my face as I was totally speechless. I had no idea what to say and was at a total loss for words with so many thoughts racing through my head. I wanted to come around the front desk and give this total stranger a big hug. I think I gave my condolences a few times and fumbled with my words for a few more minutes while he continued on with the story.
He told me that in talking with Mrs. McKneely he had asked her to be totally honest with him and tell him what to expect when it came to the work involved with keeping the motel up to par.
He went on saying that her reply was “Well if you want me to be totally honest with you, my husband and I have ran this place for the last 20 years. It’s been the best 20 years of my life. We’ve basically drank beer every day on our boat and made passionate love. Now that he’s gone, I don’t want to be here anymore.”
Again, with welled up eyes, both of us strangers sat there looking at one another about to break down into tears.
What had just happened?
Why did Kent walk into the office on this random Sunday and offer me such an awakening like this?
Who had sent him here and what did it mean? I mean I don’t normally even answer the door, so how had the stars aligned up like that?
After I had showed him around the grounds, showed him inside one of the rooms and gave him a tour of the tiki bar, he thanked me profusely for what we’ve done to the place and thanked me for my time. We both shook hands tightly as he walked away and got into his rent-a-car.
I walked into the house and Cindy looked at me asking “What’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
I sat down on the couch and told her the last half hour of my life and what Kent had just told me. When I was done, we both had tears in our eyes and just sat there looking at one another.
What an amazing visit that made me stop, think about life and how lucky we are to not only have everything we have, but have one another to share it with, which is the most important thing to me, having someone I love so much to share it with.
Thank you for the visit Kent, I’m not sure if you were sent to me by someone or if there was a reason you decided to stop and tell me that story, but I want you to know I fully took it to heart and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since you left. No matter how trivial you think the days tasks are, take them to heart and understand that someone out there might give anything to be doing something you’re complaining about.