- I drove our new truck to the nearest supplier of masonry sand and had them dump a large scoop of the stuff into the back of that glistening beautiful hunk of molded steel. Its bed is not quite as large as that of the one it replaced so the sand spilled over on the tailgate and then some fell to the ground. The scoop fellow loaned me a shovel, and I started rearranging the sand to get it off the tailgate. Twenty minutes later all the sand was in the truck and I’m headed home. The guy that loaned me the shovel sat in his shed all that time and watched me struggle with that sand and never once offered a hand. I probably would have turned him down, thanking him for offering, and continuing my effort. Maybe, when you deal with the public, you become immune to doing anything other than your job. Once the scoop is dumped, your obligation has ended. I’m left wondering if that fellow comes to work each day planning how much of his eight-hour day can be spent sitting in that chair? I know criticizing others is not a useful thing to do, but it is if I use it to analyze my actions. I think it could be said that to criticize is neither to praise, nor denounce, but to try to get closer to the truth within yourself. I can only hope that I’m not like that man, sitting dolefully, waiting for his next customer and hoping he can finish the job in 5 minutes and get back in his chair.
- I had some old financial documents to shred, so my wife and I loaded them into the back of the truck (6 boxes), and I headed off to our local AAA (American Auto Assoc) location that offered the service for free. I wanted to get there early (0815) so I wouldn’t have to wait in line very long, but upon arriving, I could see at least 15 vehicles in front of me. If you are like me, you dislike waiting, but when it comes to getting something for free, well that’s another story. I don’t think I realized that about myself until the ordeal was over and I’m on my way home listening to somebody singing about time slipping away on the radio. Saint Francis De Sales said it so eloquently; “Patience is needed with everyone, but first of all with ourselves.”
- I watch a TV show titled, “Better Things”, and I enjoy it, but my wife, not so much. That’s really part of what love requires, doing things for someone that you don’t really enjoy. If I were to guess who does the most of that, I would have to say that my wife does. That’s probably true in most marriages, doesn’t make it right, it’s just the way it is. Anyway, back to the “Better Things” episode. Pamela Adlon, the co-creator and lead actress, is a single Mom raising three daughters. She grows weary that her children do not recognize how hard she works to give them everything they take for granted. Now, I’m just guessing here, but isn’t that the plight of all parents with children? Well, she demands they perform a eulogy, pretending she had died. She wanted to hear what they would say about her. At first, they resisted and then consented to doing it. It was a moving experience and I think that more shows should strive to do that very thing. It begs the question, how many of us would like to peak around the corner and see what our loved ones had to say about us after we migrated to the other side? I read once that the thing people dread the most is speaking in public. I am a member of that group, but I do speak at funerals. Somewhere, spinning around in the back of my head, is the suspicion; that person is hovering overhead watching the proceedings. There have been funerals I couldn’t speak at; Mom, Dad, Brother, Uncle KD, strictly because my heart was shattered and I’m not someone you want to see crying. Yes, I think we all should strive to overcome our fear of speaking in front of others when the occasion demands it. It can be done, I am living proof. “The dying man has probably lost, during the course of his life, things more important than what he is about to lose by dying” … Friedrich Nietzsche
- I recently completed a 10-day trip to visit with friends and relatives that live pretty far away. Just like me, they have problems in their life and are dealing with them the best way they know how. One person I visited who is 93, lost her eyesight. I do not know how well I would handle losing my sight, but I know it would be a terrible thing to lose. Another person was no longer able to drive his car due to health problems. I have two remaining aunts (sisters, ages 88 & 93) and they are struggling with health problems also. Visiting with those fine people and seeing them struggle took some of the twinkle out of my eyes. Somehow, with all the blessing I have, I feel guilty. Maybe, that’s what encourages me to make those long-distance treks? To, somehow, bring some cheer into their lives. I can only hope that when the time comes that my life isn’t so great, someone will try to spread some cheer my way. John Keats said it so well; “Thank heaven for what happiness you have, and after thinking a moment or two that you suffer in common with all mankind, hold it not a sin to regain your cheerfulness”.
- A few weeks ago, I decided I needed to find someone to help me complete a project I started back in April 2017. It involved laying interlocking pavers on a trail from my backyard to a point that leads to our front yard. I traverse this path many times with lawn equipment and it seemed like a project well worth doing. I prepared a sign “Back Breaking Work/ $10 per hour” and included my phone number. I posted the sign down near our street and left it a couple of days. Not one person called. My son suggested I put it down at the major road that runs thru our small town, and I did, with the same results. Finally, I brought that sad sign home and placed it in our garage and I look at it occasionally, wondering why no one called? I know that as a teenager I would’ve made that call quickly, hoping I was the first one, and that job would be mine. I finished it myself and am somewhat satisfied with the results. I know that trail will still be here long after I’ve left this old world. I just hope that whoever uses it will know who made it. I often visit a set of concrete steps my Grandpa McCoy made when I was 5 years old and can still hear his refrain, “Boy, don’t you step on these until they dry, or you’ll be sorry!” William Feather said it so eloquently; “Next to doing a good job yourself, the greatest joy is having someone else do a first-class job under your direction”. I kinda agree with that.
I called an old high school classmate (Hubert) the other day to find out how his battle with cancer was progressing. We ended our conversation with him telling me that he prayed for me every day. I was somewhat taken aback. My prayers always include those I care about that are sick, or, are in need of other blessings. I was praying for my friend to be healed from his cancer and he was praying that I never have to go through what he currently experiences every day of his life. The one thing I have learned during my 28,000 spins on the wonderful planet is that it is possible to learn something new every single day. Kahlil Gibran said it so wisely; “You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance”. Thank you, Hubert, for a lesson well learned.
“Heirlooms we don’t have in our family, but stories we’ve got.” …Rose Cherin.
I ran across this quote the other day and it brought a big smile to my face. I thought it probably applied to my family as well. The Hale Family tree is quite large and as you would suspect, a lot happened. I can easily remember the stories told to me about our family as I was growing up. The one thing I knew as a kid was that the women in our family held it together. My great-grandfather (Pap) was born in 1868 and was 73 when I was born. Grandpa (1892) was 49 when I was born, so they were well past their heyday. My dad and his brothers were right in the middle of theirs while I was an adolescent. Ah, the family secrets I still carry around, tucked away inside, waiting to blast their way out into fresh air. They were all good, hard-working men that just loved having fun. All three were coal miners, so when the weekend came, it was time to do some fun stuff! During that time frame, few had a TV (1940’s – 1950’s), most had a radio, few had a refrigerator, and some had a telephone. Could you imagine taking a young person from our society today and placing them in that environment? They would be bored to death, and I think a lot of society’s sins are committed because of boredom. I grew up loving my dad and his brothers but they were not role models, and I suspect they never wanted to be one. As with anyone important in your life, you select the traits they have you think are good and disregard those unwanted. My father had the most influence on me and I owe him a lot. It was from him that I learned what it meant o be a man. If I distilled it down to one thing, it would be that you own your life and no one else decides what you do with it. If you make bad decisions, others may determine your punishment, but you are the one that placed yourself in that situation. Dad passed away in 1988 and I still miss him. I never recall him blaming someone else for his bad luck. I wonder how many of us can say that?
Recently, my wife and I took a trip to Lancaster, Pa. We attended two very good shows (“Pippin” at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater, & “Jonah” at the Sight and Sound Theater).
My wife loves to visit antique shops, so she had a good time looking over the items they had for sale in that area. We did, in fact, return home with a few interesting items. As I was driving through a rural area on our return home, with my wife napping as we cruised along, I spotted an old, rusty, pickup truck head of us. There were two people in it, and I noticed the woman was setting next to her husband with a lot of space between her and the passenger door. I’m thinking it has to be a young couple because they are sitting so close together. As we approached, I could tell they were in their mid-70’s. I couldn’t help but smile, what a wonderful thing to see, love still evident in a couple married, perhaps, 50+ years. I have witnessed many beautiful things in my life, but none as wondrous as seeing two people truly in love, long after passion has fluttered out the door, looking for someone else to drive crazy.
As I slowly drove past them, it appeared as if no one else was in their world, and I was like a piece of space debris, unnoticed, zipping past earth at a blinding speed. Somehow, I hope my marriage is like that, and I truly believe it is. John Hobbes said it best; “A woman would no doubt need a great deal of imagination to love a man for his virtue.” I’m glad my wife has a good imagination!.
A friend sent this to me and I couldn’t resist passing it on:
Start with a cage containing five monkeys and inside the cage hang a banana on a string. Place a set of stairs under it and before long, one of the monkeys will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, all the monkeys are sprayed with very cold water.
After a while, another monkey attempts to get the banana with the same results– all the monkeys are sprayed with the very cold water again. Pretty soon, none of the monkeys will try to climb the stairs. Now, take away the cold water and remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs and to his surprise, all the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted. Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked and the previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm!
Likewise, replace the third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth and finally the fifth.
Every time the newest monkey goes to the stairs, he is attacked! None of the monkeys that are beating him have any idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. None of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water, but none of them ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know, that’s the way it’s always been done around here! And that, my friends, is how company policy begins.
I hope that story made you laugh out loud, I know I did.
Wherever you are on this wonderful planet, may your life be as good, and your friends and family, be as kind as mine.