Walk with an Old Man

i am winding down, light-headed from a near five-hour drive from Santa Barbara to the Southwest corner, feeling like i had just come off a fourteen-foot “Aluma” craft after fishing all night for striped bass on Center Hill Lake with my father, something i haven’t felt for a while, or at least something of which i haven’t made that connection.

i was going to write of the magic trip to see Alan and Maren Hicks with the bonus of their daughter Eleanor joining us for the Fourth. i will later. Tonight, i am tired.

i will not watch the All-Star game, just as i didn’t watch the home run derby last night. Hype, marketing, not, NOT baseball. When they get another selection process, i might watch, but not this one with fans stuffing the electronic voting box with their favorites. But that’s another rant. If i can pull myself from this infernal machine, a tough task for me, i will read a bit and go to bed early.

But on the wham-diddly (i sorta made that up) boring but tense insanity of today’s drive, i thought of something i wanted to write:

Walk with an Old Man

the old man wasn’t stooped yet,
but
he could tell he soon would be
so
he requested his grandson join him
for a week or so
in his home where he recently moved back
and
his request was accepted
and
the young man came east
and
the two went to sports events,
golfed, fished, shopped, played games,
his and the young man’s games,
laughed a lot,
and of course,
the old man told stories, lots and lots of stories.

as the visit was nearing an end,
the old man took the boy into the nearby city,
not to the museums, or shopping, or the big events,
but
down into a rather shabby, run down section
where the old man liked to go to visit the bars
to talk to the old timers, down and out,
listening to their stories,
better understanding humanity,
even at his advanced age;
now he didn’t take the young man
into the bars, walking the street around sundown,
feeling the grit, the humility,
the strength of the people who abided there,
living in their forbearance with dignity;
as they walked, the old man spoke to the young man:

son, when you have lived as long as i have,
you will learn the things i have learned,
only they will be different then:
you live in a different world, with different, if not more,
things to learn
but
i’m a thinking if i tell you some of those things i’ve learned
you may not have to learn them again;
after all, if i had learned them earlier,
i might have avoided some of the worse things that happened;
maybe, maybe not
but
there are a couple of things i think are pretty important:
it ain’t how much money you get, earn, or just have;
it’s how you use it.
it ain’t how much you are loved;
it’s how you love.
it ain’t how much religion you have
(and boy, i can tell you there are all sorts of religions
that claim to know, even the atheists, who just believe,
and
i envy them for knowing so much;
i guess they are smarter than me,)

but
that’s beside the point);
it’s how you practice your religious belief.
it ain’t how powerful or popular you are;
it’s how you handle any power or popularity that may come your way;
and finally,
it ain’t what you’ve achieved in your job; in your politics, in your life;
it’s the way you treat other people face-to-face;
and
if you are ever in a fix about what you should do,
just do the right thing:
you’ll be all right.

there’s a heck of a lot more i would like to tell you;
i have a lot more stories, know a lot more fishing holes,
a few more golf courses, maybe even go to museum;
i know a couple of good un’s;
some more good places to eat
but
you gotta go home tomorrow
and
continue to grow up;
let’s go get a malted milk.

1 thought on “Walk with an Old Man

  1. What a wonderful lesson the old man just taught the young boy probably the most valuable one he will learn in his lifetime.

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