I DON’T HONK MY HORN

I don’t honk my horn that often, probably ’cause I hate it when people honk at me. I sat behind the gal in the SUV waiting for her to turn, we had a left hand green turn arrow for the love of Betsy. She finally looked up from her phone and ran a last second yellow light… leaving me stuck there.🤨 My left eye and mouth twitched slightly. It’s a world of frustrations.

image courtesy of houstonchronicle.com

I like to read and write, but sometimes life gets in the way. As I type this, since I didn’t have time last week so I reposted an old one, I haven’t driven the old car I vowed to this weekend… (yeah, I’m a whiner with first world problems)… I haven’t had time to touch a guitar, I haven’t called my mom yet, and it all adds up.

I knew that I had issues with commenting on Betty’s Wise Hearted site. I’ve literally spent, I’ll bet pushing, twenty hours trying to figure out how to fix it… to no avail.

Then just this week I found out that the scads of comments that I’ve left at Diane’s site, Hadarah, and Martha’s site, Meditations Of My Heart, never showed up on their end.

So, for I would say years, probably since I got a new computer, I’ve been reading and commenting and thinking all was well with the world, but I was wrong.

It’s not the end of the world, but it’s frustrating. Add the little frustrations and irritations together and pretty soon blood is boiling.

Once I’m in that state of anger I have to step back from myself. The truth is God is sovereign. If I was meant to drive the car it would have happened, or I need to change my world and schedule. If that guitar really needed to be picked and strummed I’d have made different choices about the rest of my life.

I’ll call my mom once this is done. I’ll have just enough time before the kids and grandkids show up for Sunday pasta… the shave will have to wait…

If those words that I plucked out were meant to have been read, I’m certain they would have. My words matter little.

God’s Word matters.

I tip my hat to all my on line brothers and sisters that I’ve never looked eye to eye with, but punch out words of honor and encouragement with discipline and perseverance. God does use other’s words to remind and encourage. I’ve been the blessed recipient of them. So I say thanks again.

I’m pretty sure it’s probably a lot of your words that help me be able to not honk my horn that often…

TRICK OR TREAT

trick or treat

image courtesy of Photobucket.com

Repost from October 2010… She’s long done Trick or Treating with her dad…

I know a lot of Christians who refuse to celebrate Halloween. I understand and respect their opinion.

Me? Other than some of the ignorance shown on this day of the year, I love it.

This is a night that even some of the grouchiest people act nice. Cute kids knocking on doors, knowing if the door opens someone is going to be charitable, even hospitable.

Halloween feels to me like a warm up for Thanksgiving and Christmas. People practicing being cheerful getting ready for the championship of holidays.

I have some pretty fond memories of Halloween. I don’t remember being much more excited about anything as much as Halloween and Christmas. I even remember what I was dressed up as. I got the most compliments as I recall dressed up as a Cowboy. The home-made-by-my-mom mustache was the coolest part of my costume.

We have a ritual for Halloween in our house. My wife stays home and passes out candy and I take the kids Trick Or Treating. Now I just take the youngest.

At 12 years old my ritual and streak is at stake. My wife asked our youngest how long she was going to Trick Or Treat with her dad. “Until I’m outta high school!” she declared… That’s my girl. I hope that’s true, although I suspect her heart while in the right place may change before then.

I’m a little more sentimental than my wife when it comes to these matters. I remember when my wife announced it was time for the youngest to be weaned from her baby bottle. I was devastated. I knew that season or chapter of our lives were over forever.

As the sun is starting to make its somber descent this afternoon, I’m faced with that similar awareness. Today is Halloween and it might be my last one spent with my youngest in costume.

I think back on all of them when all three girls went with me. Kenz dropped out, Ali lasted another two or three years, and now Gurm’s (nickname) in the twilight of her Trick-Or-Treat career.

I remember the costumes. I recall reminding them to say please and thank you, even in their frenzied scurrying. We discussed tactics, which streets to take. Sometimes up one side and down the other, sometimes zig-zagging across the street to cover more houses.

I carried bags, coats, shoes, and my daughters. I walked a lot of miles Trick-Or-Treating. I loved every one of them.

God’s word says life is like a breath. An inhale, an exhale, and it’s over. I’m reminded again of that tonight. Understanding how short life is gives me strength and desire to bring God and my family honor.

This is one of those nights that will accumulate with the Halloweens past to create a vivid memory for my daughter. She’ll always remember our ritual. She’ll share stories with my future grandkids of all the fun her and their grandpa had.

I’ll bet she even remembers and shares with her children how her Dad’s favorite candy was Snickers bars. She’ll hopefully tell them the truth, how she always let me have as many as I wanted.

She’s a good girl. I wish we could Trick-Or-Treat forever, but that’s not the way life works.

We all need to cherish every day as the gift each one is, whether you celebrate Halloween or not, I’ll cherish this day as a gift from God.

If you see a cute 12-year-old dressed up as a Narnian Princess and her dad in a sweatshirt with a ponytail watching proudly from the sidewalk, wave…

It might be the last time you see me there.

COOKIE BOX

I remember the box like it was yesterday, but it was around fifty years ago. It was a white box with red printing. It was a cookie box, the kind that holds about ten of the regular sized cookie packages. It was a shipping box, but I didn’t know it way back then. That day the cookie box would be an affordable casket for our pet cat Casper.

The main road north of our house, about four houses north, was a thoroughfare that connected our little town to the town next door. It was what locals would call the “back way”, like the short cuts that exist in all small towns where you have to be counted in the small population number to know about.

We traveled that road to see my parent’s friends, to pick cherries, do over a hundred miles an hour in an old used Dodge that my dad was test driving, and visit the hospital where my grandma did stints in not too long before she passed.

I was forbidden to ride my bicycle on that road because it was dangerous. There were too many V-8 powered cars and not enough folks with the willpower to not use the muscle.

I never did tell my parents me and our neighbor Glen took our bikes on that road one afternoon after school to Sylvan Park till after I’d grown up.

Sixteen holding my mom’s cats. The black one is the one I wrote about a couple weeks ago. He was smaller than my hand.

I’m not sure who found Casper, the long haired pure white cat with perrywinkle blue eyes. The Tom cat that was stone deaf. My mom loved that cat, and almost all animals for that matter.

I’m not sure if I was in kindergarten or first grade, but it was the only day I remember being held out of school when I wasn’t sick. My mom wanted me to help her bury our pet.

We drove as far north off that deadly street as we could till we came to a wire fence. It was at the base of what the locals called “The Bench”, a small mountain with a flat top, hence the name.

We got the duct taped cookie box casket out of the trunk along with my oldest brother’s folding Army shovel and I began to dig. I remember my tears turning the dusting soil to mud in spots as I dug. I can’t remember now if I was crying more for our cat or from seeing my mom cry. Maybe a little of both.

Talking with friends last night about pets and the pain of losing them reminded me about that time my mom and I buried Casper in that cookie box.

I know God can use anything to prepare us for what lies in our future. I think He uses the loss of animals to prepare us for the passing of loved ones. It’s not the same, nothing can equal the pain of losing a loved one, but it does give us a taste of the process.

Everyone learns early on that this life isn’t perfect. There is pain and there is sorrow. In those times I remember. It’ll be ten years come May since my dad passed. I tear up just typing these words… but I know one day I too will follow in his footsteps. God has allowed things to happen in our lives to prepare us.

It doesn’t matter if I’m buried in a pine box or a cookie box. I’ll be perfect. My dad will shake his head when I remind him of that test drive in that old Dodge… with me and my brother in the back… where there was supposed to be a seat…

HIS SMILE

Even with the light beaming through the doors behind him, making it hard to see, I recognized him. It was something more than physical, because he didn’t look anything like I remembered him. Maybe it was his smile.

“How you doin’?” I asked as we shook hands.

“Good, good. How are you?” he asked in his Mexican accent.

We exchanged pleasantries and before long we were reminiscing the good old days.

It’s a funny thing about the good old days; not all of us remember them the same way or even recall the same events.

The man worked for me a long time ago, back in the mid nineties. Artie, short for Arturo, was in his mid twenties, I was in my early thirties. I liked Artie right away. He was a hard working man with a good sense of humor. Right up my alley.

Artie was always very inquisitive. Even after all these years he still is. I’d forgotten how inquisitive he was until he reminded me.

Artie speaks excellent English, but I’d forgotten how he stuttered when he got excited.

“Hey, hey, Floyd… you, you, you, remember when, when, when, I, I, first started working for you? Eh, eh, eh, and I didn’t know you. And I asked you how long you worked for the, the, this company?”

My mind raced. And I vaguely recalled it, but noting more than remembering him working with us.

“No,” I smiled, knowing where the conversation was headed.

“You, you told me. Eh, eh, and then I asked you how much they paid you?” Artie was laughing at the punchline only he knew.

“No,” I shook my head and chuckled.

“Yeah, you, you, you told me ‘not enough’!” Artie was belly laughing.

It is in those moments that you remember. I don’t remember what my motives for not telling him who I was at the time.

“Even after you finally told me you were the owner, I, I, didn’t believe you! The, the, then James told me!”

If laughing does extend your life Artie’s gonna have a long one. His laughter was so contagious we stood there in the middle of the plumbing aisle of The Home Depot busting a gut.

Artie was just getting started, “Hey, hey, hey, Floyd. You remember when those guys building those stairs were, were, were taking like three days to build them? Eh, eh, and you told them they were taking too long?”

image courtesy of flicriver.com

“No,” I confessed. I didn’t recall it at all. That’s been an on going problem in business my whole life. Nothing about that has changed in the last thirty years.

“They kept taking like three or four days to build those stairs… and you, you-you told them you could build them in one day. You remember?”

I shook my head. That too was nothing new to who I was back then and still fight not to be now. But those guys were costing me more money than they should have been. They just didn’t know it.

“Yeah, those guys, they didn’t believe you. They were like ‘no way’ he can do that’. And then you came out the next day and, and, I carried the 2×12’s for you and, and we built those stairs in less than a day! You remember that?” Artie was beaming with pride.

“Yeah, I remember. Now that you told me. I’d forgotten all about it,” I admitted.

We talked for thirty minutes. I was reminded of a lot of memories that I’d forgotten. It was good to catch up and laugh. Artie reminded me that I’d taught him that once he’d mastered framing that he’d be able to do anything. He took the basic concepts of plumb, level, and square, and applied them to his own small business.

Artie and I are a lot alike. We’re workers. My blue collar dad and older brothers taught me the value of hard work. And that work is a gift. Even when the world was perfect Adam’s gift was to work the Garden. I still often think of that verse, “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet…”

In a world now where a lot of people are trying to not work, I respect the ones that see it as a gift. Then they use it to provide for their loved ones and even the ones that aren’t working.

Artie and I exchanged numbers and a handshake then finally went our separate ways. I’ve spoken to him a few times since then. We have some jobs that we need reliable man like Artie on. And his smile.

PAIN TO REMEMBER

Repost from October of 2012

She appeared very stoic… Maybe grouchy would be more applicable, but I understood, sort of, where she was coming from… or going to I should say… She was walking up the sidewalk to the place I was just leaving. I hate going there too. Maybe because she’s older she already knows what I’m beginning to figure out?

I suspect the elderly lady that was wearing the winter looking dress in the middle of summer in Arizona has realized after a certain age you cover up to protect yourself from the sun and you don’t leave the dermatologist’s office without pain… Silly me was thinking I’d get a clean bill of health that day. I could almost hear the doctor saying, “It all looks good!” – “See ya’ next time!” I’d smile, thank him graciously and walk light-footed out of his office… maybe even whistling.

pain to remember

The elderly lady probably knew she’d hear the doctor say the same thing to her as he did to me, “Hmmmm… This is pre-cancerous… We’d better take care of this now…” then the pain to remember starts. The grouchy lady has probably heard the same words the doctor shared with me next, “Yeah, that’s not good… too dark… I need to cut that off too.” Great – more pain…

The grouchy gal might have had a knife and freezing equipment that burns like fire used on her more times than I have… I didn’t blame her for the dirty look as I stepped off the sidewalk in front of her to give her the full use of it. The senior lady had that look of a permanent scowl on her face, even with someone showing her respect.

I really didn’t give the grouchy lady too much thought until after I passed her in the rocks and was half way across the parking lot, I heard a loud slap of a hard plastic type of material hitting the ground followed by a startling thud – the sound of flesh and bones hitting concrete.

I quickly turned back around to find the elderly lady on the ground struggling to get up. “Are you alright?” I asked in a loud voice as I started to jog toward her. “Oh – I’m fine!” she answered pleasantly, visibly embarrassed. “Are you sure?” I pressed. “Oh yes – I’m okay!” she was pulling herself to her feet as quickly as possible. I knew she was more embarrassed than anything else as the doctor’s office doors burst open and a couple of nurses ran out to help.

As I studied the older lady’s face while she was still on the ground, a revelation hit me… She looked completely different than she did just seconds before. Not more than five or six seconds previous, she was sporting an experienced scowl on her face, but at the moment I saw her with her long dress gathered about her and she spoke to me, I saw something much different. I saw a beautiful person, regardless of age, she had that look of the innocence of childhood.

She was appreciative of my potential chivalry, it showed in her warm eyes. I wondered if all of us are a little like that lady; taking the magic of life for granted. We too often let it rob our innocence because we’ve seen the act and gift of a day so often. Funny thing… I couldn’t feel a thing that was bleeding and covered in bandages on me while tending to her.

I guess we both found some innocence that day…