Patience & Humility
There are people we term as being "a brick shy of a load", or "their elevator doesn't go all way to the top" etc. etc. You get my drift. God's children who have hit on hard times or born into a world less accepting of their handicap. Kroger's hires them to bag groceries, and bring in carts. The kind of people one can't help but love and wish the best for. Often their name is never mentioned but you'd know them anywhere.
Oscar and Robert were the two in Tenn. I was too small to understand their malady. They lived together in a little house that I hear was always neat and clean. They raised a garden and did odd jobs that kept them strong and put bread on the table. In fact I learned the hard way they were distant relatives of mine. I was in High School when a friend asked me if I was kin to Oscar, to which I replied, "No, just because he has the last name doesn't make us kin!"
Well I learned later how wrong I was. Until then no one had even given the slightest hint we were kin. Like 3-4th cousins. I never talked to them, for children were too embarrassed to carry on a conversation with an adult that could easily have talked on their level. Anyway, I've often wondered whatever happened to Oscar, and Robert his brother. They came into this world - and when they died - there was no big mourning scene - they were buried and except for an occasional memory, they have been forgotten.
I'm wondering today how God planned for the lives of His children like Oscar and Robert to turn out. They were treated with kindness for sure. They treated others with kindness. No one took advantage of them that I know of anyway. Yet for me in my quandary this morning, I'm thinking I may have learned a little humility from them. Having to admit I was kin, brought me down a notch or two (as my mother would say) Having to admit I even knew them did not make or break my future. I often wonder if ANYONE ever talked to them about God and Salvation through Jesus.
Today, my story is this. Eddie lives in my neighborhood. Part way up the big hill of my street, about half way up. I only know Eddie by his first name. He is around 60 years old, married to a younger girl who is equally slow. They moved into the neighborhood last year and it didn't take long for us to know we had new neighbors.
Eddie leaves his home for a walk around the block each day, usually carrying a walking cane with several dogs following him. We know when he is leaving his house when he begins yelling in a booming voice that carries through the air for several blocks away. "I'm going for a walk now. Come on boys, let's go for a walk!" And the dogs come running, tottering along beside him as he stops to chat with anyone he finds outside. If no one is outside, he walks and hums a tune and sometimes is known for carrying on a conversation with himself.
Last spring I got to know Eddie a little bit. It was a day when I was not in a friendly mood, however. Not to leave you with the impression I could be rude - it was that I was working in a flower bed - transplanting flowers and I didn't have time for an exchange of words or answer endless questions which usually accompanied Eddie.
"That looks like hard work there!", his booming voice raised to its highest pitch. I wanted to say I'm not deaf - you don't have to yell.
As though he was reading my thoughts he said, "some people tell me I talk too loud, but this is the way I have always talked. I can't help it."
He asked if he could help me, to which I replied "Not this time, but I appreciate you asking". "I'll just stand here and talk to you then." he said as I cringed.
"You know I used to be a Elvis impersonator?" he didn't wait for an answer. "Yea, I use to sing in night clubs. I was good too. I don't think I could do it anymore though". His voice trailed off waiting for a response from me.
"Really, tell me about it" I said continuing to dig the ground, shoving one of his dogs away from my feet.
With one foot on the side of the house to steady himself he leaned back. He talked at random covering several subjects. Some of which he started in the middle of, and eventually came to the point. But, mostly he talked about his idol Elvis.
"Why someone tried to tell me Elvis was still living. I sure wish he was. He's my idol. Couldn't nobody sing like Elvis. Why I'd fight anyone who tried to say there was somebody better".
He was getting riled and I felt I had to say something. I didn't want a fight on my hands. I had more work to do before sundown. "I don't think I could get into a fight over him. I hardly think he is worth fighting over."
Oops wrong thing to say. "Why I would! He's my man!" he bellowed.
His dogs kept interfering with my work. Agitated at the critters for peeing in my dirt, I stormed for them to "git". I watched the little black dog scurry at the sound of my angry voice.
"Well he can't help it!" Eddie said with sympathy dripping off his face for the small dog!
I know now I should have thought the situation through before I spoke. But I had been standing on my head digging in the flowerbed, and let me tell you that ain't easy for 65ish lady to do. So without thinking I raised up and said, "Yes, but his owner can"!
Momentarily the conversation was over. Eddie and his dogs decided it was time to go home much to my delight.
Yesterday, almost a year later, I was sweeping my front porch when I heard the familiar voice. "I'm going for a walk now!" Shortly, he spied me on the porch and believe me when I say, he was three houses up when he yelled, "Did you know that yesterday was Elvis' birthday?"
I wanted to add, It was my sons BD also, but I refrained. He talked as he walked not really needing an answer, just an occasional nod that I was hearing him. "Really?" I ventured.
"Yea, Elvis was my man." standing at the end of my driveway, he changed the subject. "that kid that is my neighbor went to work for Walmart. I don't know which Walmart, he didn't say. I told him he was too young to be working, don't you agree?"
"How old is he?", I answered.
"He is seventeen. I don't think they can legally hire a kid that age? I just try to keep up with them. Talk to them all the time. Trying to advise them. I tell them to stay out of trouble or they won't be able to go to college! And college is important".
He started walking as he talked. Even when he was down the other end of the street, He was thinking out loud. When he started back toward home he saw a neighbor working on his automobile.
"Are you working on that car again? Seems like you work on that car everyday."
"It's like a helicopter. Ride it once and it needs service again!" the neighbor replied.
"Did you know I used to sing in night clubs? I was an Elvis impersonator. Don't know if I could even sing now." His voice lifted again and could be heard several blocks away on a cold January afternoon. "Which song do you like best, Jailhouse Rock, or Heartbreak Hotel?"
I somehow think he doesn't always expect an answer for he didn't wait for a response. So... in the middle of our quiet neighborhood at the end of my driveway, on a street that has only neighborhood traffic, at the time of day when very few people are out, he starts performing for us.
"Now since my baby left me, I got a new place to dwell-down at the end of lonely street-at heartbreak hotel!"
I couldn't believe my ears. He was actually on stage, and for a few minutes at least, he was Elvis again.
"You make me so lonely baby, I get so lonely, I get so lonely I could die." I should have applauded, but in Eddie's style, he started walking home with his dogs along with him. He had performed for an audience of two, and I wonder if in his head he had been singing to a hundred eager ears.
Partly humorous for sure, I watched as Eddie swung his aging body in an attempt to do an Elvis impersonation. I'll have to admit I have a new appreciation for him. His singing wasn't too bad, and somehow I could see him in his younger days, singing in a bar thinking of his idol.
Sometimes compassion can be displaced, but for the most part compassion on the Eddie's and Oscars of the world, who are self sufficient is not wasted.
One learns patience, and humility, maybe even tolerance as well as receiving a good laugh for the day. Remember my slogan, "Laughter is the seasoning of the soul". Eddie will probably give my soul a little salt again soon.