My wife continually proves herself to be a genuinely good person.
A few years ago, we moved into our current house. The subdivision we live in has only one entrance, and to get to it we generally have to go through a four-way stop in our town. There is a modest, one-car-garage house at that four-way stop, and we soon discovered that in every-season-but-winter, there was usually an elderly gentleman sitting on its front porch wearing cowboy attire. It didn’t matter if it was sixty or ninety degrees, he’d always have on the same flannel shirt, and deep-blue blue jeans. And naturally, a cowboy hat perched atop his head of grey hair. The faded-name “Carter” barely survived on the weathered mailbox in front of the dwelling.
For several years, my Mrs. waved every time she saw him sitting outside. Sometimes Mr. Carter would wave back; sometimes he wouldn’t see her.
After a few months of this interaction, my wife’s wave turned into interest.
“I want to talk to him,” she started telling me. “I don’t know why, but I just feel the urge to go say Hi.”
When spring 2012 hit, she started taking our doggy—Kitty—on a 2-mile walk, one that looped right past Mr. Carter’s house. She still waved as she passed Mr. Carter, but it felt different. Waving from a car was one thing; being on foot and only a few yards from him made her desire to actually speak to him burned a hole in her.
Eventually, she finally mustered up the courage to walk right up and introduce herself. Turned out, Mr. Carter was a 92-year-old widower, and a combination of friendly, happy, and maybe most important to the tale, lonely.
He missed his wife, hadn’t gotten used to sleeping alone, and smiled a wide, semi-toothless smile whenever someone took the time to visit with him. Mr. Carter had kids, grandkids, and even great grandkids, but many lived in other cities throughout the state and country.
One visit was all it took for my wife to be hooked. Addicted, if you will. She wanted to spend more time with the gleeful old fella she had befriended.
Maybe it is because she is a woman, maybe it is because she was experiencing maternal instinct, our ever-growing baby expanding her belly and spreading hormones soaked her in love, but in a very short period of time she grew to care for Mr. Carter. To her, the idea anyone could be lonely was painful to imagine.
When my wife left town for work, a new addition on my “Honey Do” list appeared:
- Water plants
- Send pictures of doggy
- Visit Mr. Carter!
Many moons ago, I wrote a blog where I quoted the movie As Good As it Gets, regarding what I was looking for in a partner: “You make me want to be a better man.” I know two things: One, I absolutely found that in my wife. Two, I may not be too great right now, “But I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.”
Because I want to improve as a person, I did visit Mr. Carter, and I have to admit it was a good little moment. He sees a lot from his porch, and notes, “Not everyone stops at those stop signs like they’re supposed to… but motorcycles, they do. They stop every time. They know they gotta…”
(Because when it comes to motorcycle vs. car, truck, or bigger, motorcycle loses. The only fistfight they win involves one with a bicycle.)
Mr. Carter’s favorite story involves a random moment that took him by pleasant surprise: “One day, I was just sittin’ here, not really paying attention to anything, when I heard a woman yell, ‘What do you think of these?’ I looked up, and there’s a truck, and this girl leaning out, her shirt pulled all up! Her titties were right there, barefoot! Well, they drove off before I could yell back, ‘Come a little closer so I can get a better look, then I’ll tell you what I think!”
Mr. Carter laughs every time he regales a listener with that tale.
The long and short of all this is: the next time you find yourself crying during a movie, while reading a book, or viewing something on-line titled “Twenty-one pictures that will restore your faith in humanity…” The next time you find yourself wishing, “Oh, if only real life were more like this,” do something about it.
Change your life to match what you see and desire.
And if you know someone in your neighborhood that you’ve always wanted to say “Hi” to, get off your duff and do it.
Photo: Getty Images