He stood out as outlandish, where outlandish behavior was not uncommon. He was extremely tall , excessively skinny, always laughing way too loud or patting someone on the head. And the suits…he always wore a suit, but some of the loudest, most outdated patterns ever! Sometimes he even mixed and matched the garish suit coats and pants. Even though I pitied him because he seemed so clearly “abnormal”, whenever I’d see him in the nursing home, I tried to avoid him!
One day, after unsettling news about dad’s progress, I needed time alone and found what I thought was an out of the way corner of an empty sitting area. Head down, too late I realized someone had slipped into the chair across from me. My heart sank when I lifted my eyes and realized it was Mr. Outlandish. Staring right at me!
“Name’s Spud,” he said, “Like to say the name latched on because I’m a stud, but truth is, just an old “tator” farmer.”
I couldn’t help laughing out loud at that!
“Good!” he bellowed, “I like smiles!
Then softly, he said “Life seeming pretty complicated right now, hon?”
I was shocked, so simply nodded yes.
He studied me a minute, then said, “Folks try and make life too complicated, like one of those aggravating square puzzles you turn this way and that, to make colors line up, like one I worried over years back.”
“You must mean a Rubik’s cube” I said, still stunned at this conversation.
“That’s it!” he said, “Many folks make life complicated, like one of them doggone things. They turn this way, that way, every direction, in circles, repeating mistakes, getting frustrated trying to make pieces of life line up. Some, spend whole lives jumbled up, trying to un-jumble! Some think they have it solved, then suddenly see a yellow square on their blue side and get so rattled, they jumble all up again. They twist and turn, turn and twist, instead of just letting life be.”
I was speechless, so he went on, “One day, years back, little fellow down the road from me, named Wil, came by. His family was real poor, sometimes I’d pay him to help me with chores”
He cleared his throat, then continued, “Mostly though, came to visit, had no living Pa, so he kind of adopted me. That day Wil came, I was messing with one of those confounded puzzles, someone had given me. Wil asked about it, so I told him about getting all the colors on each side the same. Told him I’d been fooling with it for days! He sat, quietly, watching me a while. Finally, I handed it to him, told him to decipher it, while I finished a letter. I figured, it’d be a cinch for bright, sharp-as-a-tack Wil to get them colors in place, in no time…unlike me!”
“I was sure surprised when I came back and the lad was just sitting there, staring at that aggravating puzzle! I asked if he’d come close to solving it”
“He told me, yes, sir, Mr, Spud, I have…but those colors was jumbled as ever and I told the boy so!”
“Yes, sir, I know” he told me “but I’ve decided those red squares might like being over there with those blue and those green ones might like being with yellow or maybe those yellow really need to stay with those red awhile. So, I was wondering, couldn’t we just go fishing and let um be?”
“Well, glory gal! I looked at that lad a minute or two, my big mouth wide open, wondering again at the ways of the good Lord, showing me simple truth from a child.”
“I grabbed that useless puzzle, tossed it right in the garbage and took Wil fishing! See, people make life too complicated. We need to just let the puzzles of life alone, let God work them out… and us…just go a fishing.”
As I sat with my mouth open, Mr. Spud got up and left as quickly as he’d come.
“How long”, I asked the nurse, “has Mr. Spud been a resident here?”
“Oh”, she said, “he’s not a resident, he volunteers, has since a man named Wil was in therapy here after brain damage from an accident. Wil didn’t make it, but Spud keeps coming, trying to help others accept…and laugh. Aren’t his suits funny! ”
YEP! Funny! Mr. Spud…so outlandish he makes me ashamed I act so normal!
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