It was a lovely spring Saturday, and I had my day all planned. I’d do a load of laundry, then join a friend at a luncheon benefiting a local women’s shelter. Next, I’d visit a relative at a Lancaster County assisted living community. Thereafter, I’d return home, do evening chores, shower up and take Dennis out for his birthday dinner.

The sun was out, the birds were singing and it was some of the nicest weather we’d had for a while. The luncheon was tasty and the company enjoyable. The program was also very worthwhile, though I admit I found the view of flowers and a shimmering lake outside the large window near my seat to be a bit distracting.

After lunch, I drove to Lancaster County with my car windows open to the pleasant breezes. I arrived at the hilltop assisted living facility and drank in the view over the beautiful surrounding farmland. There still wasn’t much activity in the fields, but soon planting would be in full swing.

I headed to my cousin’s room, but found she wasn’t there. I looked for a note that might indicate her whereabouts, but finding none, I returned to the hallway and sought out some nearby staff members. They told me my cousin and her daughter had gone to a restaurant on the facility’s premises for lunch. One of them provided me with verbal directions, but there were so many lefts and rights and straight aheads, I lost track after the first few turns.

It was a large complex, but I felt sure there would be signs periodically to point me in the right direction. The hallways were wide and well-appointed and I set forth with great confidence. Before long, I realized I must’ve made a wrong turn, and asked a nurse for directions. She kindly steered me back the way I’d come from, told me to walk past the chapel, turn right at the next corridor, follow it outside through two sets of double doors, turn right and I’d find my destination diagonally across from there.

I thought I’d followed those directions exactly, until I found myself outside without having passed through any double doors. Perhaps I’d just turned down the wrong corridor, I thought, as I returned indoors. A friendly resident was seated on a bench in the hallway just inside my re-entry point. I told her I might be lost and asked her for further directions. She pointed to the opposite end of the hall, told me to go outside there, turn right and I’d see the restaurant across the street. I did, but I didn’t see anything that looked like a restaurant, nor did I see any signs with its name.

I’ve inherited my dad’s good sense of direction, but by now I was ready to admit I was totally lost. On rare occasion, my dad would also lose his way, but invariably, if he continued driving long enough, we’d eventually come to some farm where he’d smile knowingly and say, “Now there I was at a sale once.” That meant it had been the location for one of the public auctions he frequented on Saturdays. He could then get his bearings and proceed.

I decided to forge on through another of the many doors leading back inside. There I saw the silhouette of a man ahead. He was using a walker and when I explained where I was trying to go, he started giving yet another set of directions before asking, “What’s the weather like outside?” When I told him it was warm and sunny, he smiled and said, “I’ll take you there.”

It’s said that every cloud has a silver lining, and Glenn turned out to be my silver lining. He chatted pleasantly as he led the way to a building I hadn’t noticed before. He told me how long he’d lived at the facility, about having lost his wife and shared where to get the best sweet corn in summertime. He even worried about whether I’d be able to find my way back to my car. I assured him I could, though I wasn’t too certain of that, thinking maybe I should’ve dropped bread crumbs along my circuitous way.

To bring this long story to an end, by the time I got to the restaurant in question, it had closed and my cousin was not there. Thus, I walked outside around the perimeter of many buildings until the sidewalk ran out. Then I hiked across grassy areas along the road, enjoying the peaceful rural views, and wishing I’d worn more comfortable shoes.

Finally winding up where I’d started 45 minutes earlier, I found my cousin was still not back in her room, so I left a note and headed back home. It turned out I’d been closer to her than I knew — she and her family had been having an early Easter gathering in a second-floor room above the restaurant. I couldn’t help but smile when I thought of all the nice folks I’d met along the way — and it was a great day to take a hike anyway!

Sue Bowman is a freelance writer in southeastern Pennsylvania.