By Will McCullough
Yep, you heard me, “Uncle John is coming!”
Maybe for some who have transplanted to the Lowcountry, a visit by “Uncle So-and-So”, “Aunt Who’s-it” or maybe even “Grandma Gettin’-Your-Room-Again” may not be a big deal. Heck, it may even be a hassle. Not so at the SC McCullough household. Truth be told, we don’t get to see a lot of family visitors around our place. It’s not their fault though, my Mom and Dad both died way too early, several decades ago, and both my brothers, John and Mike, now have lives of their own.
Hopping in the car for a 30 hour round trip is just not something that easily fits into their schedule, especially when there are now also grown kiddos randomly scattered up and down the coast. However, a few weeks ago, I received some really exciting news. I understand that, due to my poor title choice, the surprising aspect of this news may now be lost, but (pause for effect) my big brother John recently called and said he was coming to visit. I had not seen John in nearly two years and to know that he and his wife, Leeann, had a rare opportunity to make the trip down to see us made me very happy.
Here’s the deal: John is a college professor at a respected university near where I grew up in Pennsylvania. He’s also got three awesome sons, all in their twenties and late teens. In short, he’s a busy guy and genuinely so. It therefore should go without saying that an upcoming moment like this would be very much worth its weight in gold to the Beaufort Chapter of Clan McCullough.
While I personally grew up in a Norman Rockwell world of extended family get-togethers and cook-outs every weekend, I have always deeply lamented the fact that my kiddos have not been able to enjoy the same type of family connection/life experience that my childhood contained. So, in a nutshell, “Uncle John is coming” was pretty darn exciting news around our place.
If you’ve been embarrassingly bored enough to read a few of my previous columns, you may already know that before becoming involved in the local real estate market, I was a U.S. Marine Corps Drill Instructor. And, you may further know, if there’s one thing that a DI can do (besides make your life a living hell if need be), it’s “plan and schedule.” So, for many years, I’ve fantasized about what would make the “Perfect Family Visit to Beaufort” for members of my extended clan. Think of it as Chevy Chase in “Christmas Vacation” meets “The Big Chill” with just a dash of Jillian Michaels from “The Biggest Loser.” John’s past visits had been mostly conversation and catching up. But this time, I knew that I wanted John to finally be able to personally experience as many of my favorite aspects of “Beaufort Living” as possible in two short days. Guess what? He did!
On Saturday, we browsed the aisles of LuLu Burgess, Fordham Market, Bay Street Jewelers, had lunch at Plums and then strolled along the Waterfront Park. Sunday morning, we put in our boat at the landing beside Lady’s Island Marina, guided our sunscreen-soaked relations up the river, showed them dolphins and ospreys, went tubing, introduced them to the sandbar and topped it all off with dinner at the new Dockside location on Lady’s Island. In short, we had a blast.
Then they went home.
We all wept a bit when they left. All right, maybe more than a bit. Much like Hemingway’s “Old Man of the Sea,” it can really stink to feel alone, even if simultaneously being embraced by nature’s glory. However, there’s an old saying amongst veterans, “Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.” In a way, a similar concept applies to those looking to move to the Lowcountry. I think that sometimes it may be easiest for one to fully appreciate the Beaufort area if they’ve spent a portion of their lives living elsewhere.
As a Realtor, one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is taking folks unfamiliar with Beaufort on a wide ranging general tour of the Lowcountry, showing them not just homes, but everything life in the area has to offer. Most can’t help but fall in love and I honestly can’t blame them, the same thing happened to me just over 20 years ago. The best part, I think we saw some of the same sparks in John and Leeann’s eyes as they got to fully experience a slice of what life is like in the Lowcountry. I’m hoping that maybe, just maybe, those sparks will eventually become a fire and we’ll have two new folks visiting the area looking for a home. Only time will tell but, if so, I know just the agent for them!