Montauk Road Signs


This week, my husband and I celebrated a milestone wedding anniversary. Thirty years ago, we spoke our vows before family and friends, in the middle of what seemed like a monsoon. Many things may have changed over 30 years, but we rolled with the punches and managed to land on our feet. It helped that we like each other, too.

(Photo by Ciru/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Before our wedding day, a co-worker who has become a very dear friend mentioned to me that marriage was not for the faint of heart. There would be tears, angry words and a lot of sacrifice. She also mentioned that the adoration felt would eventually develop into a strength that would be able to withstand just about anything. After the year we just experienced, I remembered my friend’s words and realized that she had been perfectly correct with her analysis and advice.

Because of the pandemic, we decided to celebrate a little differently. The usual anniversary celebration included dinner, drinks and a mini-vacation to a favorite location. We refused to allow our celebration of a milestone to break the bank, so we decided to do something a little different. We took a day trip to Montauk, which is one of our favorite places of all time. We intended to take a quick hike through Shadmoor Park to visit the bluffs before heading back to Hicksville.

After a quick stop at Starbucks, we headed out with excited hearts. We talked about the day of our wedding, when I had to be carried across the front lawn by both limousine drivers because the grass had gotten flooded and they didn’t want me to ruin my shoes or the hem of my gown. We giggled as we remembered how the winds took the bird seed that well-wishers had thrown when we exited the church and how I found seeds in my hair that evening. We smiled fondly as we recalled the photos taken on the front steps of the church, where gowns and veils were tossed by the rain-swept wind and when one of the members of our wedding party asked whether I’d placed the Virgin Mary in the window the night before for good luck. I had, in fact, placed a small statue in the window. Our photographer had mentioned that rain was “good luck.” I still smile when I think about how he said this as he continuously wiped rain off his camera lens.

We had still been laughing about some of the happenings of that day, when a small sign caught my eye. Scrawled across the hand-painted sign were the words, “We Got This.” A small rainbow gleamed beneath the lettering. After another mile or so, a larger sign with multiple paintings of mask-wearing folks announced, “Wear a Mask For Each Other.” Another sign, a little larger than the first, bore the message, “We Are in This Together.” Messages borne of love, crafted from the heart, continued to call out to drivers and passengers alike for several miles. It was heartwarming to witness and felt refreshing to the soul.

By the time we reached Montauk, I counted more than 30 signs of various sizes with messages of hope and encouragement. Several posts were political, but most spoke words of care and love. It reminded me of those Burma-Shave rhyming poems along the roadside. Though I am not old enough to remember those signs, I recalled Ideal Farms in New Jersey had similarly rhyming poetry for a quarter mile before the entrance to their store, which always brought a smile. Those road signs on the route to Montauk were not humorous, nor did they rhyme, but their message was crystal clear: LOVE EACH OTHER.

It was an “A-HA” moment.
Love for each other is the most important part of life. Even when the going gets tough, even when things are said that cannot be taken back, even when the road gets dark and dismal, love is always the answer to every question. Love, as poet George MacDonald said, is strength. Regardless of how one feels in the moment, a little bit of love can turn a frown upside down. Don’t believe me? Try holding the door for someone when you feel angry. Pay for the person’s coffee behind you in 7-11 tomorrow. Do something nice for a stranger and you will find that your own heart expands a little. It is those little things that cause big things to happen inside you.

I just glanced at my husband, who just handed me a small bank by my favorite designer, “just because.” Little things speak volumes. When you give love and good energy to others, it makes little ripples of love that can last a lifetime. You don’t need a road sign to feel it.

Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.

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