Are You A Reader?

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C:\Users\Tommy\Desktop\WoW.jpg​​ I have quite a few friends that love to read, some more avidly than others, but all readers nonetheless. ​​ I also have friends that read very little and have no inclination to ever​​ start doing so. ​​ Each member of those two groups bring something special to the table. ​​ I find the non-readers to be more effective about discussing interpersonal relationships and things happening in their life. ​​ The readers seem to have a more varied list of things to discuss and often an anecdote to clarify their thoughts. ​​ I think it is important to have both groups in your life and that each be given the attention they deserve. ​​ I have known illiterate people that had a lot of common sense, and extremely smart people that lacked common sense. ​​ Somewhere in there is common ground that allows all of us to pitch our tent. ​​ Years ago​​ I had a close family member that was illiterate and, tho I offered to​​ tutor​​ her, she was content to remain so. ​​ She was an excellent cook, using recipes stored somewhere in the far corners of her brain, and was a kind and generous person to all. ​​ I was always intrigued by the fact that she couldn’t travel to faraway places in her mind, or read wonderful novels, or even read the​​ local newspaper. ​​ She did, however, seem to be happy and, in the scheme of things, that really seems to be​​ what we all strive for. ​​ Maybe​​ happiness lives where things are as simple as a drop of honey on the tip of a tongue, a joke told to old friends​​ as a friendly effort​​ to make them laugh, a donut eaten without anyone noticing, or even a hug that lets someone know you cherish their presence. ​​ So, why do a lot of us read so much? ​​ I think T.S. Eliot had it right;​​ “We read many books, because we cannot know enough people.” ​​ 

Smileycons!I realized the other day that I hadn’t made any New Year’s​​ Resolutions for 2017,​​ and I started to wonder why. ​​ I think it is an​​ age-related thing. ​​ At 76,​​ I’m thankful for each and every day,​​ and I don’t seem to worry a lot about reaching goals. ​​​​ I believe the penchant to set goals belongs​​ to those much younger and have so much life to look forward to. ​​ Goals for older people are much more modest than those for the younger group. ​​ Heck, some days I get up with absolutely no goal in mind​​ and yet,​​ the day goes by smoothly. ​​ I guess if I had a goal (a goal without a plan is just a wish),​​ it would be to continue aging without some dreaded disease. ​​ We know that is not entirely up to us! ​​​​ Research shows that the chances of acquiring one of three diseases (cancer, heart disease, dementia) simultaneously rises ten-fold between the ages of​​ 70 and 80, then ten-fold again during the following decade of life. ​​ We can help avoid that, I’m told, by eating properly, exercising, not smoking, not drinking,​​ and getting plenty of sleep. ​​ We also know that 85% of all people that attain the age of 100 are female. ​​ I have a theory on why that happens, but that’s a thought for another time. ​​ Anyway, I do not have​​ any​​ ​​ New Year’s​​ resolutions and am perfectly happy to wander aimlessly thru life wondering what’s going to happen next. “There is one who remembers the way to your door: Life you may evade, but Death you shall not.​​ ―​​ T.S. Eliot

Smileycons!My wife & I were taking our daily walk the other day and after walking 1 mile out and​​ returning to the car, she departed for the grocery​​ store​​ and I continued on for 3 more miles. ​​ I had planned on listening to an audiobook that was on my iPod (Valiant Ambition by Nat Philbrick)​​ but alas, its battery was low and it refused to entertain me as I confidently marched towards my goal of 10,000 steps daily. ​​ I have known for a long time that if I occupy my mind​​ with something the time goes by quickly. ​​ Lo​​ and behold, using that strategy, before I knew it my hourly walk was over and​​ I​​ had mentally written this entry as part of my next missive. ​​ I​​ was hoping I would remember it when I got home. ​​ So, here it is:

 ​​​​ It’s 1945-46, WWII is winding down and I’m four or five years old. ​​ I’m sitting down at the edge of the yard at my maternal grandparent’s home, watching cars whiz by on their way to the only town in our county (Grundy, VA). ​​ The day is bright and sunny and all the cars have their windows down (no A/C during those days) so fresh air can keep the occupants cool. ​​ As one of the cars​​ went​​ by,​​ a fellow in the back seat stuck​​ his head out the window,​​ for some unknow reason, and his nice Stetson felt hat blew​​ off his head. ​​ Before they could​​ turn around and return, that hat​​ was​​ firmly in my hand and I​​ was​​ standing inside the house handing it to Grandpa.  ​​​​ He had​​ a big smile on his face and remarked​​ that a Stetson is one of the finest hats on earth (founded in 1865). ​​ A few days later Grandma sent​​ me to the Stanley’s local store with a dime to get​​ a loaf of bread. ​​ It was a very small family store the locals used to buy needed items before their next visit to a much larger store in Grundy. ​​ I noticed a shiny new Ford sitting out front as I entered. ​​ The driver was sitting on the bench against the wall waiting his turn. ​​ The counter was kinda tall and hard for a small kid to see over and as the driver of the new car stepped forward to make his purchase he pulled change from his pocket and a $20 bill floated to the floor right in front of me.  ​​​​ Surely, but calmly, I place my foot over it and​​ waited his departure. ​​ My foot stayed planted​​ until he was in his car and I then informed Mrs. Stanley the reason for my visit. ​​ She turned​​ to get the loaf of bread and I quickly reach down and grabbed​​ the bill, placing it in my pocket before she saw​​ what happened. ​​ When you are so poor that food is problematic, you do things that, in retrospect, you’re not proud of.  ​​​​ I never started my day​​ wondering what I could steal, but wondering what I would find to eat. ​​ Is that an excuse to steal? Probably not a good one, but when you are so desperate for food that you snatch orange peelings from the side of the road to eat, it may justify taking advantage of opportunities. ​​ My grandparents never encouraged me to do those things,​​ but I was never criticized for my larceny.  ​​​​ Anyway, back to my story. ​​ As I returned home with that $20 firmly tucked in my pocket ($265 in today’s currency),​​ a smile as wide as all outdoors was plastered on my face. ​​ I handed Grandma the loaf of bread and as she turned​​ to place it on the table, I pulled out the $20 bill and placed it in her hand. ​​ Now, all of a sudden, her smile was as big as mine and happiness bounced​​ off the walls, out the open windows,​​ and down the hollow. ​​ Visions of Grandma’s good cooking​​ were​​ bouncing around in my head and I​​ was​​ a happy kid. ​​ To my horror, she yelled​​ for Grandpa, “Lonnie, come see what Tommy Joe brought home!”. ​​ Just​​ as I suspected, Grandpa snatched​​ the money from her hand,​​ went​​ down to the road, waited on the next bus, and headed​​ off to the beer-joint he likes in Grundy called the “Wigwam”.  ​​​​ It’s hard to describe the sadness that was deep within me as that bus stopped, opened up its door,​​ and Grandpa stepped in. He didn’t​​ return until all that money​​ was​​ gone,​​ and I’m guessing I was being taught that ill-gotten gains seldom result in happy outcomes. ​​ Oh​​ yes, Grandpa sold the hat before the week was over. ​​ "A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, then a germ".​​ - John Steinbeck

 

Smileycons!Richard Nixon famously said;​​ “People react to fear not love”.  ​​​​ Somehow,​​ I think he is right, tho I wish he wasn’t. ​​ Most of us react to things we are fearful of and try to prevent them from happening. ​​ That’s when we find out how little power we really possess.  ​​​​ So many of the​​ people I care about are facing medical, financial,​​ and personal difficulties and, mostly, I can only offer emotional support. ​​ They are on my “Prayer List” and are included every day as I ask​​ God​​ to help them with their particular problem. ​​ This brings to mind something I remember happening when I was around 8 years old: ​​ I was up in the “holler” visiting with my paternal grandparents and we were sitting out on the front porch. ​​ They were concerned about a distant relative that was recently put in a wheelchair with no hope of ever walking again. ​​ They had heard of a traveling preacher that was capable of placing his hands on you, and thru some powerful praying, convince God to heal your infirmity. ​​ I remember listening to them intently and having a wonderful feeling sweep over me. ​​ My grandparents did not know for sure that it could be done but felt it was worth a try. ​​ The minister was several counties over, neither of them drove a car (none of my grandparents had a vehicle), but they had children that did, so the plan was made to get our relative to the next service. ​​ As anticipated, the minister placed his hand on our relative and prayed with all his might, and then asked him to try and get up. ​​ He was unable to, so the minister assured him that it could happen within the next few days​​ and to go home and pray continually. ​​ To my knowledge, he was never able to get up out of his wheelchair and walk. ​​ Grandma & Grandpa never brought it up again,​​ but I knew they were disappointed. ​​ As for me, I’ll never forget that exquisite feeling of discovering that wonderful things outside our control are possible. ​​ I still believe that today, I have seen it so many times.​​ 

​​ I hope you have enjoyed this missive, I certainly have enjoyed writing it.​​