Day 149 (Brimfield to Charlton)
Today was a day I thought I would cherish because of the location in which I was headed and find value in walking into my home town. There was a sense of accomplishment brewing starting out in the morning. It was one of those so close yet so far away moments. I had a reason this morning to push myself and make it to Zorbas restaurant by 12 o’clock. I was meeting friends and family there and they were going to walk about a mile and a half with me to my families store where there was a celebratory cookout waiting. This was a big day.
Starting in Brimfield I was on a feverish pace and in my head I thought it was because I want to get to Charlton, just to say I made it. The closer and closer I came to that imaginary line the more and more I look forward to seeing my friends and family whether it be 100 people or just my mom and dad. I was on a great pace and made it into Sturbridge no problem. With a little October chill in the air, walking at a slightly faster pace kept me warm and made the home stretch that much more enjoyable. As I was coming up to the “Welcome to Charlton” sign, one I have seem a million times before, but from a car window a car was pulled over on the side of the road with a familiar face walking towards me. It was my friends mother, Mrs. Westgate. With a smile on her face she said “ I just happened to be driving by and thought it would be perfect to take a picture of you at the Charlton line.”. What an extremely thoughtful thing to do. I do not have many pictures of myself but more of scenery and those I have met so to have one walking into my home town it was truly wonderful. With a smile and a thank you I pushed on about two more miles when I made it Zorbas.
There were people waiting and people pulling in when I made my way there. A few kids from the church saw me right before I made it into the parking lot and stopped to say hello and it was truly a pleasure to say hello to old friends, especially on such an important day on my trip. As they jumped back in their car I walked over to those waiting in the parking lot. Smiles, laughs, and hugs were shared, some stories were told and new friends met old. There was about 15 of us when it came time to walk. My father called the police station to see if we needed an escort to walk on route 20 with this many people but they said it was not a problem. My good friend Liz Cotrupi pulled up in her loud truck, a little disappointed I had already made it because she had a sign she wanted to hold as I approached. The sign did not go to waste because we strapped it to the back of my fathers truck and he became our escort for the short trip up twenty to Camosse Masonry Supply.
As my new walking group began our short trek up the road. The father of a good friend of mine, Mark Dolan, was a constant affirmer of my trip and constantly sent me encouraging words to continue was with us this morning and was so intrigued by Buddy. He asked if he could push Buddy for a little bit and with no hesitation Buddy had a new driver for the rest of the day. Mark took off and was ahead of the group in no time. I was glad someone else was able to experience pushing a cart on route 20.
As Mark trekked on I stayed with the pack explaining what I would do while I would walk, maybe point of where I would sleep off the side of the road if I had to or what I would do incase of an emergency. It was a little surreal walking with such good friends and family. To have them participate in such an important section of my trip truly shows me how blessed I am. As we continued down 20 we approached another young man walking on the side of the road. He was dressed in all black, skate shoes, and had black gloves on. I said hello to him and introduced myself. He said his name was Raffi and he was one a walk of his own. He had been walking for 24 hours and was headed in the direction of his girlfriends house out in the Worcester area. I was caught so off guard by encountering another walker in my hometown as I am walking. I explained what we were doing and asked him if he would like to join us for some food, drink, and company up at the barbeque waiting just ahead. He accepted with some reservation of not wanting to impede. I told him he was more than welcome and I explained the importance of breaks in such an endeavor. Raffi was able to mingle with different people in the group walking and took a liking to many of them. We explained that most of us knew each other through the church community and he spoke about faith with one of my good friends Mike as I passed by. He seemed like a smart young man looking for a good conversation and speaking with Mike he found the right person.
We finally made it to Camosse’s in Charlton and the grill was going and even more friends and family were waiting, what a wonderful sight to behold. My grandmother, aunts, uncles, and brothers were all there waiting. Hugs and congratulations were everywhere. I was so happy to be where I was. I was saying before that I was so excited to be walking to Charlton but I realized I was excited to be walking to friends and family. I could tell Raffi was getting restless and wanting to leave. I grabbed the backpack I had with me and filled it with food, drink, a few bucks, and an actual pair of walking shoes rather than the skate shoes he had on.. I explained to him the amount of generosity I was shown in the past 5 months and I only ask he pay it forward. I was happy to hear later on that Mark Dolan and his wife Maria gave him a ride to where he was headed. I guess when they were driving and talking Mark looked back in his rear view and Raffi had passed out from exhaustion of his 24 hour walking session, I do not blame him.
This day is one of the top five moments on my trip. I am blessed to see and share an experience with the ones who I love. I know there are people in this world that have no one. No one to say goodnight to, no one to walk with, and no one to say I love you. Why have I been caught in this hand of grace?
Day 149 (Miles 3147 - 3160) Brimfield to Charlton