He hobbled slowly to a stone wall to lean on it, caught his breath to gather strength. A few meters away, he half fell, half sat in a shady spot on the dusty ground.
His threadbare clothes were so tattered and thin that most people wouldn’t even use them for rags.
He carefully placed a beat-up cup right within reach in front of him. He’d learned that given half a chance, other beggars more agile than he would snatch his few coins and run. He was barely able to move across the street now, much less give chase. He tried in vain not to close his eyes.
There was just something about closing his eyes though that eased his pain. Every joint in his body seemed to ache, right down to his bone marrow. He wasn’t sure why, but sometimes sharp pains in his side doubled him over, causing him to curl up in a tight ball until the pain subsided. Continue reading Just For Crumbs
Saturday week ago we were on family vacation at Surfside Beach, Texas. We rented a 5 bedroom beach house that sleeps 30. That’s a lot, but if everyone was there, 28 would be piled in … at least until the next grandchild is born in October.
On the verge of cocky, we guys planned a fish fry (fish we hadn’t yet caught) Saturday night for the 18 of us there. Thank goodness it wasn’t on the keepers I caught. Gandhi ate more than that!
We fished off the jetties the first day, and my sons locked into a dozen or so speckled sea trout. They just quietly grinned like cats at a dairy farm every time I reeled in a small fish.
In the end though, we had more than enough fish.
We ate and ate, but cooked way too much. (That’s what you get when five men cook a meal.) Continue reading Catching Men With Fish
My daughter said she was thinking about taking a college philosophy class.
I swallowed, hard.
My exposure to Philosophy 101 in college was a single day many moons ago. I figured it was going to be a blow off elective course. I mean, easy, right?
But when the sweater wearing professor came in with pointed shoes, coke bottle glasses and five pens in his pocket protector, well, there’s your sign.
He walked straight to the lectern, cleared his throat and started.
He didn’t introduce himself, say hi, nothing.
He could have at least said, “Hey y’all! What a dad gum good lookin’ class this is! I’m Professor Nerdman, and this here is Philosophy 101! You’ll all need this textbook I’m holdin’ up right here and I’m passin’ round a syllabus for ya now.” Continue reading Philosophy of a One
I was making my way to a book store downtown in my own little world, absorbed in my own thoughts, with no desire to interact with anyone other than get through and get gone.
A man came out of God-Tel, a local homeless mission, up the sidewalk from me. He started walking towards me and I dutifully moved to the right so we would cross in the socially acceptable manner.
He walked with no sense of purpose, and his steps had no urgency. I glanced at him to give the slight nod of the head that men give each other that says, “I see you. I recognize you and respect your presence, but I have no intention of talking to you”.
Instead of making the acceptable brief, expressionless eye contact and responding in kind with the same nod back, he looked away toward the street.
Not giving eye contact raised a red alert alarm, so I steadied my gaze on him as he ambled toward me. Continue reading Why Me?
I once had a chicken with a small injury on its tail. I caught it, doctored it, then made a terrible mistake. I released it back into the large coop with the 15 or so other birds.
The next day the chicken was in a corner of the pen, alive, but barely. Its tail feathers and many on its back were gone and the small injury was now a gaping wound.
I stared in disbelief as one by one the other chickens went by and pecked the wounded bird. As if its spirit had been broken in 24 hours, it sat facing the corner of the pen cowering down in a defensive posture.
It didn’t even move when pecked, except when it winced in pain when another chicken hit the wound directly.
I did what I should have done the day before and separated it in a small protected pen, but it was to late, the chicken died shortly afterwards. Continue reading There Go I
There is a draw that is as deep as the call of the wild. Sounds of solitude, quiet, peace echo deep within a person’s heart. There is great treasure there, comfort, peace.
The constant barrage of traffic, TV, cell phones, music, constant stimulation all force quiet from the mind. The noise drives away peace like a drowning man gasping for life giving air, but only taking in a water death.
Sound gathers force, picks up momentum, and wisps its way past silence to leave us in a head pounding, over stimulation of constantly moving, changing, drowning noise.
Somewhere at the end of the noise is a place where silence welcomes one home, like a life long friend who’s always there with open arms, even when there’s no contact. Continue reading Listen to Silence
“You’re going to cry when I graduate, aren’t you?”
“Yes. Yes, I am.”
That was enough to satisfy my youngest daughter, Jessica, back in September. She’s the last of my eight children to graduate high school.
She graduated Friday.
We have a few college graduations left, but by and large, the work is done. The time is finished. The investment complete.
I cried, not why she thought I would, but I cried… Continue reading 31 Years, 3 Months, 1 Week, 2 Days
“Breath! Breath deep!”, the nurse said. “Good! Control your breaths. Control. Breath deep. Control!”
The deep breaths continue until the pain momentarily subsides. No class, no education, no preparation can adequately prepare someone for the pain. Sure, it wouldn’t be forever, but right then, in that moment, it feels like it will never end.
Sharp, awful waves migrate from the back and end in the private area of the body. It’s so intense that all appearances, inhibitions and concern for dignity flies straight out the window. Nothing short of hope and relief from the excruciating pain can bring comfort.
The nurse, a seasoned veteran, has seen it all, yet she never consistently predicts the responses beforehand. A sonogram gives the approximate size, length and weight beforehand, but everyone’s different, so there’s no way to know up front how long or what the response may be. Continue reading Push, Push!
I’ve been thinking back about an older couple I knew when I was in college. Loved them! Great, rock solid, influential people!
He developed cancer. After a valiant fight, Hospice was called. Hospice was there round the clock during his last days at home.
They were always a very kind, loving couple, quite expressive in their love and admiration for each other. They used pet names, like Sweetie Pie and Sugar Plum, Honey Bear and Honey Bunny, along with other pet names as terms of endearment.
They would greet each other, usually in a higher pitch voice with great emphasis on their tones, sounding like they were talking to a bouncing baby or a favorite animal.
Their transparent physical, emotional and verbal affection for each other was fun to watch. I learned a lot from them.
But that was in life. Death was a little different. Continue reading Sweetie Pie
Paula Ratcliffe of Great Britain set the women’s marathon world record in 2002, broke it in 2003, and was the odds on favorite to win the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
She started strong and was in the lead, but the 95 degree heat began to weigh heavily on her. At mile 22 of the 26.2 mile race, she suddenly stopped and sat down on a curb. She couldn’t finish. She put her head in her hands and began sobbing uncontrollably.
She was officially classified as DNF – Did Not Finish. A small Japanese woman crossed the finish line first for the gold, a Kenyan won silver, and an elated American finished third for bronze.
I remember the race vividly, not because of those who won at the top, but those who won at the bottom. Continue reading Finish the Race