|My brother Scott (right) and I meet at Lee's Chapel in Lexington, Va.|
"What, is he crazy? Kim, look at this. He's nuts," was my immediate response. Aside from the "short hop" comment — which I think was offered facetiously — I would be in Gettysburg three weeks earlier for my annual pilgrimage to the Civil War Institute. There was no way on God's Green Earth that I was going back to Gettysburg three weeks after I'd already been there, even if I hadn't seen my brother in 100 years. I was not going to turn this into a commute.
I stewed. I steamed. I epitheted.
Then a light bulb clicked on. "You know," I said to Kim. "We could meet halfway. I wonder if he'll come to Lexington, VA? That's almost halfway for both of us. I could do that. Plus, there's Civil War stuff there, too, like Lee's and Stonewall Jackson's burial sites, VMI, Washington & Lee University. It's perfect."
So I called Scott. He said he'd think about it and let me know.
|Scott and his companion, Shelly, with Kim and myself at Jackson's grave side.|
Anyway, Saturday arrived under a steady drizzle. Kim and I got to Lexington first and we killed some time walking around town and scouting out restaurants before checking in at the Abigail.
Then it was time to meet. I had suggested Lee's Chapel as the rendezvous point, because it was centrally located and easy to get to. Plus, it's where Lee is buried, as well as his horse, Traveller.
Finally, as we waited at the top of a hill, Scott and his family arrived. When he approached, we shook hands, then embraced. Scott is 10 years younger than I am, and growing up, I was his babysitter. I was basically a different generation than his, so even as brothers, I don't think we were particularly close. That's not a commentary, it's just how it was. We actually seem closer now that we're further apart. Go figure.
But time and blood mingled well in Lexington, and it is about time. I'm 62 years old. Our "middle" brother, David, who lives in Alaska, is 59. Scott is 52. Time is fleeting and the distances are great. My brothers (aside from my wife) are all the family I have left. I don't mean for these reunions to be so few and far between, but they just are. I haven't seen David in more than 12 years.
We spent about four hours together, reminiscing while we ate lunch and relaxed. Then it was time for Scott and his crew to get back to Gettysburg.
Kim and I are thinking about a full family reunion. Iowa is the logical central gathering spot for the three Wehrle boys, although I have major reservations about meeting in a cornfield (I know, I know, that's a stereotypical view of Iowa — but it's all that I have).
Then Kim suggested that we meet at the Grand Canyon. Hmm. Makes sense. A vast chasm in the middle of nowhere. And yet, something beautiful beyond description...