I was on the front porch when you drove by and I waved, having just finished a phone call to my mother.
Roses are in bloom on the family farm and I remember their smell and recall the outhouse used to be near where the roses now grow. This reminds you of our Lord’s teaching regarding resurrection - we’ve all been stinkers at one time or another but once we leave this world, we shall bloom and be pleasing in the life to come.
My ancestors settled on that land in the late 17th century and produced a doctor, barber, teachers, nurses, insurance salesmen, and tobacco farmers, of which one farmer was my father, drafted his senior year in high school to fight the Germans in 1945. While in service, he learned some German - “ich liebe dich” (I love you) - and having witnessed the fragile nature of life, returned home and wasted no time using that phrase when he met my mother. He impressed her with his worldliness, won her heart in marriage, and later I came along, the end result of a quick study in linguistics by a tobacco farmer.
Like my father I’ve found love and happiness, and what I’m looking for now is a new vocation, a calling, a new career. A man must do more than sit on the back porch and identify birds with a phone app. The birds already know who they are. Exercise for exercise sake does not interest me, nor does frisbee golf, dance marathons, socialism or chinchilla farming. I’m past 66 and I want to be a barbeque pit master, or a proficient carpenter, but there’s no time to acquire those skills.
My future is worrisome due to years of internet activity. I have filled out hundreds of online forms and always checked the small box declaring I accept the terms and conditions and I have never once glanced at said terms and conditions. Eventually, there will be a knock at the door and a large man called “Pinky” speaking in a Jersey accent and holding a baseball bat will demand a payment due of six figures. I know it and you know it and so does Pinky.
Nevertheless, searching for a new career, I lean on my wife for advice.
She tells me “Just relax and smile.” But a life of various careers - church pastor, chemist, government administrator, and writer, has apparently left a lived-in look on my face. Even though I’m happy as a clam, apparently my off-camera face resembles an uninviting troll.
But my generation was never lighthearted.
We produced Pete Seeger and Joan Baez, not people you’d invite over for a grilled burger and laughs. My generation complained a lot, was a self-centered bunch, and I see that now when Laura, our beautiful high school granddaughter comes over to visit. She is congenial and laughs a lot as do her friends. #Totally. They walk around holding smart phones with apps that inform them if friends are nearby so they can link up. This would also work well for migrating geese.
But I, being technologically challenged, am limited to old-fashioned personal contact which is enhanced by being pleasant, and I think that would be a good vocation. The world needs to “just relax and smile”.
Therefore, I don’t care about your race, political and religious beliefs, or your preferences in pork barbeque. My new vocation is pleasantness, a rarity in our time, thus strongly advised by my wife and our Lord.
So, have a great day, my friend. I’ll keep you in my thoughts, and may only the best be yours.
Readers can write to Joehudsn@gmail.com and Facebook (View from the Hudson). He is author of “Big Decisions are Best Made with Hot Dogs”.