“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help...” Eccl. 4:9-10 nlt
He hurried off the last split log and reached for my hand. “I’m so sorry you had to come with me.”
I accepted his hand. “Don’t be sorry; I wanted to come.” Tears seeped from the corners of my eyes. “I don’t have the strength. My pack is pulling me down.”
I unfastened the waist belt, loosened the shoulders straps, and let my backpack fall from my body. I sat up and pulled my foot from the muddy bog. My husband got behind me and helped lift me to my feet.
He pointed to a nearby rock. “Sit down over there. You change your socks and I’ll clean off your boot.” He sat my pack beside me. “We’re trying to go too many miles and neither of us is fit to do it.” Tears welled in his eyes.
My entire boot was coated with mud from the bog. My socks were soaked. “I’m okay. I just lost my balance stepping from the last log to the solid ground.” I dug through my pack for dry socks.
He wet a handkerchief with drinking water and handed it to me. Then he pulled out some jerky and GORP. We rested and refueled our bodies. I dried my feet and wiped away my tears, and we pressed on along the mountain trail.
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Backpacking was/is my husband’s dream. Thirty-five years ago I supported his dream by sewing his first backpack from a kit—almost ruined my little Singer machine. He carried that blaze orange pack on the Resurrection Trail in Alaska, took it on Boy Scouts trips as Scoutmaster, and semi-retired it for his first section hike of the Appalachian Trail—the one from which I shared above. I went on this trek because our son was not able to arrange for the time off work, and I wanted my husband to accomplish his dream.
In our years of marriage, we have encouraged one another’s dreams, lifted each other up, stepped out of our comfort zones, and walked beside one another. We’ve climbed over the better and worse days; been up the side of richer mountain and waded in the valley of the poor. We've survived cuts, bruises, surgeries, menopause, and depression together. Like on the trail, we periodically make stops to rest, refuel, and wipe away the tears. And then, we press on.
This is the ultimate goal of the “not-so-desperate housewife.” A clean house, a safe environment, even a well pressed shirt only began the journey to my role as helpmate—his constant, consistent partner, cheerleader, best friend.
Note: GORP is “Good ole raisins and peanuts” or some similar variation. I made the backpack from a Frostline Kit, which no longer exists.