Cherished Friendships

Two cats sitting next to each other on a paper.

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 abundanceâ€.  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.