Returning to Richmond

Gloria rented a U-Haul trailer, hitched it up to her pickup, and drove up to Frederick to fetch Genevieve home to Richmond. Things were calm and affectionate between them for a long time, maybe because Gloria was working nights and because Gen's outlook on life was much improved.

Gen resumed her normal interest in life and travel. Whenever Gloria had a free couple of days off work, the two women hopped in the car and drove someplace. They overnighted at every state park in Virginia, so long as the park had cabins.

Gen took sailing lessons so she could be useful aboard the sailboat Ted and I kept at Cobb Island MD, about 80 miles north of Richmond. When she decided she was ready to test her skills, she asked me for directions to the marina so she could join Ted and me on the boat the following Saturday. I mailed a set to her (this was in 1985, way before email took hold). Ted and I always drove down to the marina on Friday evening after work and spent the night on board, then took off the following morning for whatever destination we had in mind. Gen said she would arrive by 10:00 a.m.

She arrived at 12:30, which was actually pretty good for the chronically late Gen. She explained that she got lost. "What happened to the directions I sent you?" I asked. "They blew out the car window," she said. That was typical. I'd seen it happen to Gen dozens of times. She a) left the map at home, b) misplaced the instructions for a sewing pattern, c) ignored advice from experts, d) lost the textbook, e) threw the recipe in the trash, f) found some other way to defeat the tried-and-true methods of getting things done. As a personnel evaluation once hedged, "Mrs. Kershaw prefers to make her own mistakes." Gen was very proud of that description.

We loaded Gen onto the boat and headed out to the Potomac River. The wind was moderate and steady--perfect for a novice to take a trick at the helm. The boat on which Gen had taken lessons was a Sunfish, considerably smaller than the 27' sloop Ted and I sailed. Gen was confused enough to accept advice. We showed her how to read the compass and how to line the bow pulpit up with something on shore to steer for. She settled for the compass and stared at it with intensity sufficient to bore holes in it as she steered the boat. It was fun to watch her figure out the relationships between movement of the tiller and movement of the compass, but she didn't see anything else during the whole trip.

After we returned to the marina and Gen was getting in her car to drive home, she commented that when she closed her eyes, she could see that the compass rose was burned on her retinas. She had enough fun, though, that she asked if she could come with us again, and this time she wanted to spend the night.