The other day I replaced the vacuum cleaner that I use in the garage. It was sorta like losing an old friend. You see, it was the very first vacuum I ever bought (1962 Sears Canister). I have repaired it over the years, but lately the bags for it were becoming very had to find. Other than that, it worked well and looked like a neglected 45 year old machine. It was replaced by an Electrolux bought by my wife at the thrift store for $3. After she finished cleaning it, I thought I had a new machine. A new Electrolux cost $900. This thing will suck the paint off the car it is so powerful. So, why am I saddened at losing the old pile of junk I was using before? This is as deep as I can get so bear with me. I dislike discarding old things because, I too, am getting old. Very few things get better with age. I hope I am one of those things. Boy, I sure hope the musings in the letter get gooder!
Last Thursday I went over to Ahoskie, NC, to visit with my brother Jerry and his wife Patty. They are always a joy to spend time with and it gives me a chance to find out what’s going on in their lives and catch him up on mine. I show up with my pedometer attached to my belt and ready to brag about the 15,000 steps taken by me the day before my visit. Now, let me put this in perspective, my brother is in a wheel chair after suffering a stroke two years ago. He hasn’t taken a single steps since then and I am there to tell him about how many steps I took the previous day. Fortunately, as I walked into his home and saw him setting in his wheelchair I knew that was not a good topic for discussion.
My wife’s mother lives in a retirement community with 500 more fortunate souls. We went over to have lunch with her in their dining hall this past Sunday and had a delicious meal and enjoyed her company very much. Gladys came back with us to spend the day. She sat outside and chatted with me as I washed the car, all the while giving me instructions on the sequence I should follow, i.e.: wash the car, ArmorAll the interior, clean the windows inside and then vacuum. The process I use normally takes me around 3-4 hours and I’m guessing that I have washed my vehicles more than a 1000 times in my lifetime. I’m thinking that Gladys has never washed a car in her life. I wonder, does being old make us an expert in everything?
That reminds me of something that happened to me in 1965. I hired into the Timekeeping Dept of Newport News Shipbuilding in 1963. A couple of years later my boss asked me if I thought I was an “Expert Timekeeper”. Always eager for a bigger raise, I replied “sure!”. He then commenced to inform me that an “Expert Timekeeper was one with his brains beat out”. Since then I have never wanted to be an “expert” at anything.
Friday, my wife and I leave for my old stompin’ grounds at Oakwood, Va. It is difficult to describe my joy as we pile into the car and head off to Southwest Virginia. I have lived many places and called them all home, but, there is only one true “home”. While there, I am with friends and relatives that I grew up with. My roots are there and I am comfortable there. These fine people knew me before my life became cluttered with ambition and the need to “have things”. They knew me when my only ambition was to knock people down (football), drive by someone for a layup (basketball) or get my chores done so dad wouldn’t be mad when he came home from mining coal. I read once, by whom I cannot remember, that “home is where you go and they cannot tell you not to come in”. I always thought that applied to wherever Mom & Dad lived. They have been gone many years now, their home has been torn down and a church parking lot occupies the land they lived on. But, I can still go home. Isn’t that wonderful!
When next we meet, I plan on having some pics of a few mountaineers to show you. Be careful, they look normal on the outside, but they are anything but normal. They see no evil, speak no evil and treat everyone with respect. You would love to have them as neighbors and friends.
Until next time. Thanks for reading…. Tommy
“They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; and I deem them mad because they think my days have a price.”…Kahlil Gibran