More Joy


⌘ I was sitting in my favorite chair in front of my workshop a few days ago, around 5 p.m. after several hours of work, and I was enjoying a good cigar.  Just as I finished it, I noticed a boat filled with people tying up at our pier.  My first thought was that they were lost and needed directions back to the Poquoson River.  That has happened before, so it was a natural reaction.  A tall handsome man in his 30s got out of the boat and walked through the backyard to where I was sitting.  “Hi Tom!” he exclaimed as he approached, which took me by surprise.  He informed me he lived down the street from us, pointing to his home not very far away, and he said that my wife had informed him he could tie his boat to our pier anytime.  He further clarified that the reason for his visit was that a married couple in the group was interested in buying our home when we were ready to sell.  My wife had informed him about our plans to move to a retirement community when one of their cottages became available.  We have been on their list for almost 3 years, though we were 8th in line at the time.  We have no idea how long we’re going to wait, so we have spent a moderate amount of time downsizing. 

Anyway, four people gathered around me, including the couple who wanted me to know their intentions of buying our home.  I invited them to take a tour of our house and they welcomed it gladly.  Before she went inside, my wife had informed me she was going to take a shower, so I had to make sure she was dressed before I took them in.  She was, so the tour began.  As it progressed, I could tell they were having trouble deciding how they would raise the money they would need for the purchase.  They live in our 12,000-strong small town, so I hope they’re successful.  My wife and I have agreed that we will help them if we can. 

When I see young people getting excited, it always lifts my spirits.  I think enthusiasm is the one characteristic we lose as we age.  When you look into the eyes of younger people, you see the hope and expectations of what the next day will bring.  Our grandson (Brandon—yeah, the same one mentioned above) helps us do chores around the house every week, and I see that same thing in him.  He always has a cheerful smile on his face and his eyes dance in his head as if he hears special music that we cannot.  He turned 26 a few days ago.  My wife and I were dating when he was born, so I have known him all of his life and he is like a grandson to me.  I proudly call him my “Bonus Grandson.”  I got that term from his older brother (Christopher), who included me with his natural grandparents in his college graduation pictures.  He had four granddads in that frame, and the photographer asked him how he had so many grandparents.  He calmly answered that “these two are bonus grandparents.”  That made me feel good.  So, I now have bonus sons and bonus grandsons. 

Anyway, back to the people on the boat who entered our lives a few days ago, who finally got back aboard and sailed down the river.  I could hear the enthusiasm in their voices as they slowly slid out of sight.  As my wife and I sat down for supper that evening, we could still hear and feel the laughter and joy they left inside our home.  We hope it stays a while.

Benedict De Spinoza said that “the more joy we have, the more nearly perfect we are.”  I agree wholeheartedly!

⌘ Our yard has been demanding our attention lately.  I sowed new grass in early October and refrained from any maintenance until the seeds had at least a month to germinate and grow to a height of 3 inches.  We had multiple storms pass over us during that time, which caused pine straw, tree branches, pinecones, and leaves to pile up.  I was nervous as I surveyed the work needed to get the yard back to normal, because it looked like a lot of work.  Our grandson (Brandon) usually lends us a hand, but he’s been off to Atlantic City for several days of fun.  He absolutely enjoys going up there with his friends and trying to win in the casinos.  I suggested to him that if casinos were continuously losing money, they couldn’t stay in business.  I could tell from his grin he thinks they haven’t seen the likes of him yet. 😊  My suggestion to him is to make sure he has lots of fun, then he can count his losses as entertainment.

Anyway, back to the yard.  Brandon returned home two days ago but has promised to stay away from us for at least a week to ensure that he doesn’t pass COVID on to us. 

Bottom line is, our yard couldn’t wait another week for cleaning and mowing, so it was up to me and my wife to get it done.  It took us 3 days, but our front and back yard look great, although sadly there are plenty of leaves still floating down to reverse all of our hard work.  I hope that by the time they are all down, Brandon will be available to lend us a hand. 

But I really shouldn’t complain as I know the exercise involved in that effort is good for us, raising our heart rate and keeping our muscles healthy, which stops me from sitting in front of my PC all day. 😊  

 As William Feather said so eloquently, “Next to doing a good job yourself, the greatest joy is in having someone else do a first-class job under your direction.”  I think Bill’s on to something, eh?   

⌘   A few days ago my wife and I were sitting at the breakfast table and the view from our breakfast nook told us that the rain was relentless, and that our activities need to be scheduled indoors.  I told her of my plans for the day and her eyes widened and an enormous smile covered her face.  “I know what you could do today!” she exclaimed.  My reply was too stern: “I don’t need for you to find things for me to do; I never plan your day, and you should not plan mine.”  The smile fled her beautiful face as easily as a bullet leaves a gun’s barrel. And I knew straight away that I had expressed myself too harshly.  I am right that I don’t want her to schedule my day unless it’s something we’re doing together, or something that needs my attention, but I really didn’t express myself in kind terms and she deserves better from the man, who, until the end of his time here on Earth, vowed to love her.   

All I can hope is that it reveals no meanness of spirit lying deep within me, tucked away in an unlocked room in a far corner of my heart. 

I was watching an interview with Alex Trebek, the longtime “Jeopardy” host who died recently of pancreatic cancer.  When asked how he wanted to be remembered, he softly answered, “that I was a kind man.”  He wasn’t interested in being remembered as the famous game show host, only as a kind man.  I think that’s how I also want to be remembered as I navigate my way through the “Old Age” labyrinth and face the possibility of death.  So all I have to do is find the little “meanness” room tucked away somewhere in my heart, put a solid padlock on it, and throw away the key immediately.  “All cruelty springs from weakness.” — Lucius Seneca.  There’s more truth in that quote than I want to accept.  Being a good husband doesn’t change who I am, it reveals who I am.  I need a moral compass that doesn’t always land on me.  An old Russian proverb says that “the wolf must pay for the sheep’s tears.”  I know that means I am responsible for my words and actions.  It’s up to me to find a solution to my dilemma!    

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