AN ENDURING FRIENDSHIP
By Pat Robinson
“Hello,” she chirped, “We are coming to Palo Alto and were wondering if we might stay at your place.” I was delighted to hear Charlotte ask such a question. There were many places from which to choose. I was honored that they would like to stay at my home. They had moved away and left a hole in the ward and in our group of friends. Somehow being with them again would help me understand their importance to me. Talking and laughing about memorable events that glued us together would be good for me.
My prized image of that visit is of Gene sitting in my living room, reading, while morning streamed through the west-facing windows.
In a time when my marriage came to an end and I was uncertain about almost everything, especially how to raise two young boys, Gene and other men in our ward became the pillars that spiritually supported the boys and me. We were included in camping weekends, day trips to the beach, picnics in the redwoods, and Sunday dinners. Every contact we had seemed to fill a need for us, yet it all appeared effortless to Gene and Charlotte.
Gene knew how to craft comments and questions that would open doors to new thoughts. Children and adults were the beneficiaries of that gift. His creative mind helped to plow new ground in topics of literature, educational theory, the gospel, and scores of other topics. Conversations were deep and always interesting.
Why was Gene a “stand out” for me? He treated me as a valued and treasured person. I never had an insignificant conversation with him. He listened with his whole being, and the by-product was pure love and compassion. When I questioned his statements, he never drove the academic streamroller over me. His gentle, sensitive ways allowed both of us to learn from each other.
“Gene-and-Charlotte” said in one breath with no space in between was how they were—entwined in a love that was palpable and comfortable to be around.
We shared the wealth of England (the U.K.) together. We had a surprise meeting in Stratford, a planned visit to our cottage in Snowshill, other visits in London. Charlotte’s customized tour of the National Gallery was superb! Gene, always wanting to be helpful to travelers, carried our luggage to the train and made sure we got on the right car to Hatfield.
This story has (there is) no need for an ending. I know an enduring friendship when I see one.