Just this morning ...
I was singing … belting out the music and considering each word to “What a Wonderful World” (Yes, the same one that is playing each time that You visit this site. Though I have heard it many times, I still cling to its truths and the spirit of its melody.) Driving in the comfortable stillness of pre-dawn darkness, I was assembling, bagging, and tossing from the window of my van, this morning’s edition of the Wall Street Journal, and The Tampa Tribune … all the while singing that song … right out loud, and without any reservation.
Then I saw the vehicle coming down the street … and knew from the many times prior, who it was and what his destination was. So, I paused in my routine, and pulled into his driveway behind him. In a moment, he came up to my window and greeted me. “How Ya doin’ Bub?” He opened with his usual brusque yet warm demeanor. "Everything going OK?” (I knew that he asked this because of his awareness that, after twenty years of delivering newspapers to his neighborhood, I have been notified that my delivery route is being merged with another … and I will soon be without work.) “I’m doing well, My Friend. One day at a time … just like they are served up to us … You know.” I replied. “And how goes it with your business?" I asked. “Well, you knew that I retired? Didn’t I tell you?” he asked. “Why no … you didn’t, in fact. How did that come to pass?"
“Well, last June I was getting ready for work, as usual, when the phone rang. It was the son of my best friend, and partner of twenty-six years, on the phone. ‘Dad won’t be in to work today’ he said. ‘Oh, and why’s that?’ I asked him. ‘Because Dad died last night.’ was his reply. Well, after the wake, all the flowers, and all that … I gave it some thought … and decided that there is more to life than all that business and work. I was leaving Her (he gave his head a side-way nod to indicate that “Her” was in the house.) alone every day. And she deserves more than that. So I retired. And now I am here for her and fix her lunch every day.”
I knew some of his “Her” story. She is his drug-addiction-devastated daughter. And this Korean War vintage, US Marine Corps veteran, of battles too horrible to recount … this now-retired Steel Worker, of rugged and severe career background … this brusque and crustily veneered man, who I have never seen in any garb that is not starched, pressed to perfection, and spotless … whose every element is always in ’perfect order’ and ’ship-shape’ … took his daughter in, and adopted her children to raise himself in order that they might have a stable and caring home. I knew this.
This is a man who waved me down from his passing vehicle a couple of mornings ago, and told me that he had phoned “some nice lady at the Tribune” the week before “and told her that she had a great guy on this route.” And that “he (meaning me) is the only reason that I get the Tribune.” And that “if he wasn’t treated right in this route-merging business … well she could take her Tribune and put it where the sun don’t shine.” (He then told me that had this “nice woman” not been so nice … and a lady … he would have told her to shove the Tribune up ____ well you get the idea. I told you … he is a crusty and seasoned man of neither frills nor niceties.)
After a bit of inquiry I determined that the “Nice Woman” who he had spoken so eloquently with was none other than the Publisher/President of The Tampa Tribune. He took this revelation with a shrug of indifference.
So now, Dear reader and Friend, you have the “stage” set. And now I can share with you a bit of how wonderful it is to live in harmony with the Voice of Life … that Still, Small, Voice within … my Lady Muse, so oft referred to. For, as this most-manly of men, Man finished his few words of description of his commitment to “my Little One” (as he referred to his daughter), I said “You have done well, My Friend. You listened to this (and I repeatedly pointed to my Heart … for One does not use words like ‘Heart’ to a man as unsentimental as this), and ‘this’ lasts far beyond the failure of ‘this’” (and I shook with one hand my other arm … indicating ‘the body’ … for One doesn’t speak of physical things to this sort of Man.) “Yeah! You’re right!” he said, “and it matters ‘up there’ (he pointed heavenward) too.” Then he extended his hand to shake mine. It was not a quick hand-shake. It was a firm, yet gentle “hand-hug.” And tears were in his eyes. “I love You, My Friend!” I spoke, “I do really love You.” he nodded, turned, and went into his garage. Then with a wipe of his eyes, entered the door from the garage into his home.
This is how it works, Dear One. How Being available to Life’s leading gives opportunity to Be the One Voice that Life can use to let such a man … One who is so staunchly committed to his habits and rituals … know that He is loved. Life … God … Heaven … Allah … The Creator, The Almighty … whatever identity label suites your place of belief and/or understanding, wants to communicate Love to us … the Created … the individual and wondrously unique Creatures that we so beautifully are. And You and I have the opportunity to do just what Satchmo was singing with me this morning. We can make this … Our World … more Wonderful … by simply Being willing to say what Life wants to have said … “I love You, My Friend. I REALLY do love YOU.”
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