Trickles Down to Another

A 17-year-old doesn’t really believe he needs time with his father alone, one on one with a fair amount of time to exchange thoughts and strengthen understanding.  By no coincidence what he believes and must endure are two quite completely different things.  Among our weekly practices and scheduled time together is a weekly brunch on Saturday.  Between jobs we squeeze in about an hour to eat, laugh and talk.  On this particular Saturday he had exhibited a great deal of flexibility and agreed we should join his grandparents in celebrating my brother and his wife’s visit and changing our location and menu.

As we arrived first and reserved a table, I had my first brush with the first half of my future amazement and lesson awaiting me.  An awkward and decrepit gentleman made his way in front of me at a snail’s pace toward the back of the room.  I endured his journey with his tennis ball tipped walker until the first cross row of tables where I speedily paced and cut to the opposite side of the restaurant, seeking my own agenda and needs.  Being somewhat desensitized from my normal weeks day in and day out, I failed to pay him much thought past my own inconvenience.

Busy tends to take its toll on the obvious before us and I did my share to stay uninvolved and self-motivated.  After ordering I hurried to the restroom and quickly proceeded to wash and leave.  Scratching slaps against the door revealed to me in the mirror that I was seeing once again my snail paced friend.  His unsure and wavering motion forced me to watch and his disposition and body language warned me that I dare not speak.  Pain and aggravation wrote their names across his face as I searched for the slightest opening to be of assistance or merely a pleasant word uttered.  No such moment presented itself and I felt unaccomplished and checkmated by my insignificance in the moment. Nothing natural or forced had revealed itself and my loss of words and actions disappointed me.

After being seated back at my table I watched the gentleman struggle toward a wheelchair where he met and did his best to push his wife alone unassisted to their table.  The wheelchair and walker surrounded the small table and my ears remained with my family as my eyes and mind strolled across the room to the remarkable spirit unfolding before me.  After a long settling process and the arrival of their feast, the two weakest in the building emitted their strength.  In the center of the table two wrinkled, withered and age-spotted arms grasped at the fingers and gave thanks for their blessings.  Old, crippled, sick and handicapped they had nothing and yet everything and I realized on that day it had not been my job to help at all but to be helped.

Love, thankfulness and prayer commanded its presence over all less important things and two rightfully discouraged were not.  My basket of what to be grateful for was turned upside down and what I chose to pick up and return and leave unretrieved gave my life the gift of perspectives.  While looking to always help we can never afford to fail to realize we need it ourselves.  In that moment the weak carried the strong and I was reminded God’s favor is through acceptance of his help not our ability to grant it to others.  He must come before them and all to follow will find itself in the light.  A life’s witness is purposeful and speaks volumes of our ability to accept all the gifts spread before us.  May the center of your table be filled with clinched hands and the closing of your eyes help you see more clearly than ever as the help that you welcome “trickles down to another.”

Mr. Redwine

Simplest Things

One week into summer I had already realized it would be one of the best ever.  Both of my boys had agreed, for one reason or another, to spend the summer working with me and I was quietly ecstatic with their decision.  They both work long, hard days and make each day a lot like being on vacation.  There is a great deal of joking, horseplay and well-meaning rhetoric and the days, though long for them, blow by like the cottonseeds of a dandelion in a hurricane.

Knowing me well gives us all an advantage and respect rare to most work situations and some insight to them of the diligence and tenacity required to face the day in day out rigors of providing for a large family and college.  With me working their days off with my employees, they recognize the stamina required year round to provide for the family.

Most of the work is hot, physical and dirty – and there are a few weekly tasks that they dislike with a passion.  While all the behind the scenes work requires an education, they experience firsthand the type of work awaiting their failure to pursue and acquire an education

For me, the physical requirements are a secret formula for health and fitness and a chance to extend my youthfulness to the best of my ability.  The working boss example passes integrity and insight to my sons as they become men, and financial and personal goal setting come together as they learn time management and discipline.

With all the lessons I pursue vocally, visually and regularly, they continue to teach me the most and remind me the foremost aspect I have instilled in them since they could crawl – “Have Fun” at whatever you do.  A lifetime of making lemonade, if necessary, but make sure to find the positives in everything and pump `em up.  When working there is no doubt one day can easily resemble another unless we strive to make each special and rewarding.

There had been a barrage of jobs that particular day and the boys got a chance to wear multiple hats.  The variety of services and job descriptions helps inject the spice into the regimen and train the young men in numerous areas for diversification of skills and income, a real bonus and security in an unsure and fickle economy and job market.

As we completed the first few legs of an extremely busy and diverse day, we added a stop by one of the warehouse I manage.  Among the thousands of crates and boxes is one with birthday balls for underprivileged children.  The boys removed a nerf football and began a sequence of back and forth tags by throwing it at each other.  If the thrower was caught he was still “it,” but if he hit the other the game changed hunters.  They hid, climbed and ran all over the large warehouse and uncontrolled laughter filled the space with the hilarity of the situational comedy and antics of the two.

I gruffly implored they quit and get to work as they turned on me, insisting I should play.  As I declined I found myself tagged and the game became a full-blown break in my plans.  The warehouse was a cool 95 degrees and we ran it for over an hour, laughing until our sides hurt and startling each other with our well-planned strategies and athleticism. The workout was grueling and worth every second and my sons had rescued the day with their playful sense of life’s exuberance.

The time extension of the day was not begrudged and the memory of the spontaneous family time and bonding became a permanent patch in our quilt.  The ability to make the most difficult fun and memorable had been accomplished by my sons.   Their inner strength to recognize the need to make the most mundane exciting and memorable was priceless.

My sons inability to take no for an answer occasionally isn’t defiance but an insistence that I follow my own advice.  Make a memory every chance you get and feel free to take the ordinary to unforgettable.  Work and play combined reward each other and those willing to blend.  The chance to do it with people you love is a bonus and a chance to look once again at the mirror and be pleased with what you see.

As our stubborn focus and attention turns to flexibility and lightheartedness we discover the true harvest of life awaiting us.  The things our children will remember and speak of long after we are gone are those we provided with the courage to step outside of convenience and regimen and discover a little about ourselves.  Stay alert, don’t miss a sign and savor the spontaneous opportunities to celebrate the extraction of joy from the “Simplest Things.”
Mr. Redwine