A number of years ago, Gene had a meeting in St. Thomas and we decided it would be a great anniversary gift to ourselves to combine business with pleasure. We had stopped in St. Thomas on our honeymoon cruise and it was our favorite island. Unfortunately, the President decided to fly into Eastern Iowa on that day and we scrambled to get to the airport before they closed it down for several hours. Our flight took off just after Air Force One landed and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Gene was just charming the entire trip, holding my hand, ordering my flight beverage, laughing with me as we ran to catch our connection. None of the usual travel snafus fazed him. When we were checking into the hotel, he looked at me and said, “Why don’t you go check with the concierge and see if there are any tours we could do while we are here?” I looked at him in shock. First of all, I didn’t think he knew what a concierge was. Second, I wondered if he knew they would charge for these tours. Naturally, I took off on a run before he changed his mind, and scheduled two tours that I thought he would like. Best trip ever!!

The next day, we walked down to the hotel pier and boarded a boat to take us to St. John’s island to go snorkeling. I had never been snorkeling before, but Gene took scuba lessons in college and was certified, and I knew he would love it. I’m very much at home in the water, so I was excited as well. Our group had a large number of people who had never snorkeled, so the tour guide explained that he would walk us all through it.

As we walked into the beautiful, blue water, Gene took hold of my hand and said, “Come with me. I will teach you.” He quickly taught me how to put on the face mask and breath through the tube, and off we went. In this particular bay, the area was designated as a National Park and there were plaques on the bottom of the ocean identifying various coral types, plants, etc. and we would swim from one to another. It was simply amazing. At one point, Gene grabbed my hand and my heart swelled. We were swimming in the ocean on a beautiful day, holding hands. It was the most romantic thing I could think of.

Just then, Gene and I both leaned up and with a big smile on my face, I expected him to say, “I love you.” Instead, he said, “Swim with your feet, not your hands. I can’t read the plaques.” I laughed so hard that I had tears running down my face. When he asked why I was laughing, I told him what I was expecting and he started laughing too. It didn’t diminish the moment at all. We would look at each other and laugh throughout the day.

I have told this story many times over the years in speeches and to young couples as an example of why I’m not a mind reader. And I point out that sometimes someone needs to tell us that we are swimming with our hands when we should be using our feet.

Most of us are sheltering at home waiting for Covid-19 to run its course, and true to my nature, I’m taking the opportunity to organize a few rooms, try out some new recipes, read more books, and contemplate yard work (still contemplating, not actually doing this yet!). I’m also getting a little writing done which always brings me joy.