Mama and I were enjoying a breezy evening on the front porch of a cabin in the Black Hills of South Dakota yesterday when our neighbors opened the door to their cabin.
We had different neighbors when the day started, but the new ones — a man and his wife — quickly spotted us.
I figured then was as good a time as any to get aquatinted.
I asked him how he was doing as his wife made her way down the steps of their front porch and followed closely behind him toward their car.
“I woke up so I’m having a good day,” the man said. “When you’re 85 years old and you wake up, it’s a good day. Especially when you wake up next to that.”
He nodded toward his wife. She smiled before she nudged him and told him to stop.
When the man had retrieved a suitcase, he stopped at the end of our porch and asked me a question.
“Where are y’all from?”
He had a voice fit for radio.
I told him where I live.
“That’s where we got married,” he said.
The radio voice boomed with excitement as the man launched into a story.
He said they had a Protestant wedding in a Catholic church because it was the only one they could find in which to get married.
Apparently, it didn’t take the man long to know he found the right woman.
According to his story, it didn’t even take a whole date. The man said he proposed on their first date, she said yes on their second one and they were married less than 30 days later.
He pumped his fist when he told me.
“It’s a lot easier to love somebody than it is to like them,” he said. “I like her.”
By this time the owner of both cabins, Lynn Darling, had joined us on the porch.
He agreed with the man’s sentiment.
“That’s why I married mine,” Darling said. “She’s my best friend.”
His best friend’s name is Susan. They own the cabins at Bear Rock in Custer, South Dakota.
The first night Mama, Daddy and I spent there, Lynn told us a mine-claim cabin was built on the property in about 1876 after gold was discovered there a year earlier.
He also gave us great suggestions on what to do and where to eat during our time in Custer.
Then he told us about Susan. His face brightened, and a smile curved above his long, white beard.
Susan and Lynn enjoy riding bicycles through the Black Hills together to take in the scenery.
Some years ago, the scenery changed when Susan was hit by a van during a ride.
While Lynn told us about the accident, he pointed all the way up his left side from his lower leg to the top of his head as he spoke of her injuries.
He told me there was no helmet law in South Dakota, but he wears one each time he cruises Custer’s roads on his three-wheeled, electric recumbent bicycle because of the traumatic brain injury Susan sustained.
I met her today.
We talked about tree carvings, sea turtles the beach and how I got to fulfill a lifelong dream to sleep on a top bunk while I was in their cabin.
It was a great way to end a great stay.
Lynn and Susan told us goodbye, hugged us and waved as we backed out of their driveway.
I waved in return, and had one thought as we left.
Lynn and Susan both have great best friends.