THE RIGHT THING

The Right Thing is a Repost from the summer of 2011. I’d forgotten all about it till my dear friend Hazel reminded me of it. Thanks, Hazel.

“Go ahead, Bobby… Do it! Hurry up he’s suffering… SHOOT!!!” He urged his little brother. The little brother stood there with their grandpa’s shotgun in his shaking hands, the barrels with a dead bead on the villain; the hole diggin’ ground hog.

The groundhog was wounded in the trap, but not dead yet. “I can’t do it,” Bobby finally said with a hint of water in his eyes. He pushed the gun into his big brother’s arms.

“That’s okay, I’ll do it,” Dean pointed toward the suffering rodent and squeezed the trigger. “Well, he’s done diggin’ holes in the cow’s pasture I guess,” Dean mumbled.

the right thing

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As they walked back to the house to show their grandpa the cattle leg breaking villain, a somber older brother asked his little brother, who had volunteered for the job of executioner, why he didn’t pull the trigger.

“I just couldn’t,” Bobby explained, ”He was lookin’ at me with those eyes and I just couldn’t kill em’.”

Dean chose that setting to offer his little brother, 2 1/2 years his junior, a life lesson he was still learning himself as little more than a child. “Sometimes it’s not easy to do the right thing. Hard to know what’s right,” he said.

Bobby just nodded with a straight ahead sullen face. The laughing, joking, and planning about how he was going to be the trigger man to that cow killing varmint were completely done.

There was no joy in killing. It was only for necessity and as a last resort. Fighting had the same ground rules in our household as kids, but that rule was broken more than once.

The discipline of principles and character while difficult, define a person. The opposite of the principled person is the one who allows strictly emotions to guide their life. How we feel about certain issues should not always determine the decisions we make. The principles that guide our life should be the determining factors of a decision and action.

We see a society now that bases all their decisions on how they “feel,” without the foundation of principles as defined from a Biblical perspective. We have a society of soft individuals wishing to live in peace and harmony… A great idea within the confines of human nature, an impossibility in a fallen world.

I can’t remember seeing my oldest brother Dean over the last fifteen years more than 3 or 4 times without his dog Teddy, whom he called Ted. When Teddy was at the end of his life and the cancer had all but finished him, Dean had a decision to make. Would he take Ted to a hospital, which was the only thing that heeler feared, or would he take one more trip to the desert?

I’d love to be able to say that Dean took Ted for one more ride to their desert retreat. That he sniffed the creosote bush against a clean, clear, dry desert night air. I’d like to think Dean would let the dust settle after pulling to a stop. He would look over at his old faithful companion with sorrow only known to a man and a dog that spent virtually every waking hour together over a decade and a half.

Dean would get out of the truck and go to the passenger seat where his best friend usually rode.

“C-mon Ted!” I can hear him say. He’d pet Ted one more time…

“Good boy Ted,” he’d whisper one more time… As he was patting Ted’s side, I can picture Dean reach into his back pocket, take out his pistol with Ted looking out at the desert night air and end his suffering.

If my brother would have been on his farm in Texas, that’s how it would have gone down. Or if Ted could have walked… My brother told me it was harder to have Ted in his lap with his arms holding his old friend while sitting in their pickup truck, as the doctor gave Ted a shot…

I can almost hear my big brother say, “Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing… Hard to know what’s right”…

I knew my brother would do the hardest thing…

That’s almost always the right answer…

GIVE ‘EM THREE FEET

My good friend Bill, The Cycle Guy, was hit on his bicycle by a hit and run driver and is taking a break from posting this week as he’s recuperating from a back surgery, at least in part, caused by the bike accident.

Bill asked me to share some of my personal experiences with bicycles and tragic accidents in hopes of raising awareness of drivers to be on the lookout for bicyclists.

I’d appreciate if you’d head over to Bill’s place here, as we remember what it was like to ride a bicycle with the wind in your hair and your senses full of life.

my friend

TAKE IT FOR GRANTED

We were inches away from some of the most beautiful landscape in the country. Only a thin layer of steel and aluminum separating us, but no one seemed to care. The repetition and grind had caused everyone to take it for granted.

It was dark, but is was morning. Everyone of us were either engrossed in our smart phones, thumbs flailing, or had our heads leaned back, eyes closed. Some praying for sleep.

I’ve been in those seats so often that I too wandered in to be herded like cattle onto the commercial jet. Inevitably, someone, usually a kid, will push up the plastic window blind to take a peek at the world.

I closed my eyes and rested my head against the seat like the rest of the zombies.

As we taxied toward the runway not a single window blind was lifted. Including mine. Even when we blasted down the runway the vampires still rested their eyes. Until the teenage girl with pink nail polish in the seat in front of me cracked her blind.

take it for granted

image courtesy of photo bucket.com

The light brought my eyelids to attention… my mind too. There we were; a hop, skip, and a jump from the Pacific and the perfect view of it, and all of us had made that trip so often that none of us paid attention to it.

We take our gifts and privileges for granted; including the girl in front of me. Before we got half way down the runway, she closed her blind. That’s when I opened mine.

I’ve made that trip so may times in my life there’s no way I could count the number, but that doesn’t mean I should take it for granted.

This freewill can lull us to sleep, literally, physically, and spiritually. We get used to discarding gifts like little kids. The things we once longed for sit collecting dust or end up in the give-away bag.

We tend to do the same things with the gifts of our senses. We get so used to seeing, smelling, tasting, and hearing our gifts that they lose the appeal and awe they once had.

I hoisted the shade and looked at the massive ocean. I studied it like I hadn’t in decades. It was amazing. I sat in awe of the water and the clouds that hung like angelic pillows in the blue heavens. I marveled at the city and the organized society that has spread eastward up the expansive mountains.

We take so much for granted; the majestic mountains and expansive seas. The seasons that bring snow and rain to the earth that help sustain life. The sunrise and the sunset… and each and every breath.

We turn out backs and eyes to a device that has pictures of what we’re passing through… “-Foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see-“.

Look around. Count every blessing and don’t take it for granted.

PREACHING TO THE CHOIR

It doesn’t do much good preaching to the choir when the choir’s not listening. I’ve been preached to about the value of not procrastinating. I’ve learned that lesson well… more times than I can recount.

I’ve preached to others about the virtue of not procrastinating and not making the same mistakes twice too. One of the multitudes of people I’ve given the speech about, “not making the same mistakes twice”, is my youngest daughter. She got to witness me feasting on my hypocritical flavored words, yet again.

“An umbrella’s in the pool,” she said.

“Yeah, I know,” I said. I didn’t have to to tell her who’s fault it was.. Her mom isn’t so different than her dad. I knew she knew. Plus, I gave myself a mental pat on the back for not throwing her mom under the bus. Till now…

preaching to the choir

image courtesy of Pinterest

That was a Friday morning. By Sunday afternoon, the time I got around to umbrella fishing, the open nine foot umbrella, along with the ultra heavy metal stand designed to keep umbrellas from blowing over and into pools, was half-way into the deep end of the pool. Of course the wind blew west. There’s no lesson to be learned by an easterly gust…

I’m not sure why I tried to tread water and yank the water filled fabric and steel weighted base plate toward the shallow end… I would have felt pretty foolish if I hadn’t been preoccupied with trying to get air back into my lungs and water out of them.

With no diving mask or kid’s goggles handy, they’re everywhere until you need them, and contact lenses in my eyes, the second attempt to rescue the sunken umbrella was an exercise in braille. By the time I dove down, fumbled around and got my hands on the umbrella pole, traced it down to the stand and finally located the knob, or the place the knob used to be that turned to release the pole, I was out of breath again.

There was just a nut where a plastic knob used to cover. I quickly thought about the prospect of getting out, trudging to the garage to guess at the size of the wrench that I’d need to dive back down and loosen the nut. That was when the monster in me came out and I ripped the pole from the base and made for the surface.

I hacked and eventually caught my breath. After taking breathing breaks, I did finally rescue the umbrella and had it deck side.

My youngest got her swimming suit on to help, but she could’t budge the base plate, even under water. By the time I dove, deadlifted the weight a couple feet at a time before having to resurface, I had the base plate into shallow water… and a gash on my ankle from it.

I wasn’t preaching to the choir then. “Well that sucked,” I said catching by breath. My daughter just nodded.

SUMMERTIME

Those of us that live in Arizona wear the summertime like a mule does a loaded pack. But once we survive another one, we feel like we’ve earned braggin’ rights. We tell summertime stories like old men do fishin’ ones.

The problem is our memory loses clarity after eight months.

For me, there’s not a summertime that goes by and I don’t relive the ones from my childhood and rough and tumble years.

Sometimes it’s the scorching summer breeze that forces my eyes to squint that pulls me back down memory lane. Other times it can be an ice-cold drink of water I pour down my throat. Funny how good water tastes when you desperately need it.

The thing that causes me more past summertime reflection than anything else is seeing other people cope with the intense desert heat. I can spot a heat stroke like Sherlock Holmes does a clue.

Being in the construction industry has given me an up close look at people who toil in the kind of heat that can kill folks. I respect the toughness of people who not only survive, but thrive, despite the angry heat. It reminds me of my days in the desert.

I was pulling out of an auto parts store parking lot when I spotted the truck. I notice struggling and poor people. Once you’ve lived that life, you can almost smell it.

The old red Ford pickup was a beater. It had a busted out rear side window that was duct taped up with plastic. The body of the small-sized pickup was hammered. The hood was raised, the universal sign of mechanical problems, and the skinny kid with filthy hands, T-shirt and shorts, stood beside it. The work truck was loaded with landscape debris and a ladder.

I stopped as I was pulling out and watched. It was hot, about four o’clock past the middle of a nasty June. Sitting in my ice-cold air-conditioned car, I glanced at the digital thermometer dashboard read out. It was 117 and rising.

I watched the kid with the scruffy brown beard. I knew exactly how he felt in an instant. I’ve walked the miles in that kid’s dirty tennis shoes.

summertime

NOTE – his legs sticking out from underneath the truck

The kid had a wrench in his hand. Then, without the luxury of coveralls or an old blanket, the kid scraped his way under his truck that was broken down outside the auto parts store. Even tanned skin sears like meat on a grill through T-shirts in Arizona parking lots in June, July, and August.

My heart went out to the young kid who was out working and trying to eek out a living.

Those are the kind of things that make or break people. You either decide to be okay with that lifestyle or you do something about it, despite the harsh environment.

I thank God it wasn’t me under that broken down truck in the summertime anymore… but I wouldn’t trade my days having done it. Some of the best things we ever get, are the things no one-handed us.