Life Comes Down to the simplest equation
August 19, 2023
On Tuesday morning, I came walking through SuperOne in Roseau, which is a daily experience during these months of July and August.
Lately, I buy a single item or two. If something is forgotten, it's not a big deal. I'm always back the next day if I remember to bring my list.
What I look for, besides a good deal, are young kids and their parents, usually the mothers.
Once I threw a fit in a grocery store back in 1948 or 1949 and my mother only smiled.
Everyone probably thought, "Doesn't she have remarkable patience?"
"Keep it up," she'd say as I thrashed on the wooden floor and wailed away that I was sick of Rice Krispies and oatmeal.
I was not smart then.
Mom was a firm believer in corporal punishment.
Her unsaid saying was, "I'll make it hurt!"
And boy, did she make it hurt when we got back to the Studebaker, where she spanked me soundly.
Oh, I had it coming.
And today, I think kindly of my mother and what she would have done if she had raised Donald J. Trump, who is in big trouble, all of his own making.
Had he had my mother, a full-blooded German, born in 1909, she would have thrashed the Hun when he was young and he would not be in the trouble he is in today.
Every day I see beauty.
Certainly not in the mirror.
I see beauty in hospitals, streets, stores, and stoplights.
I want to call out, "You're beautiful."
Once I was so shy, I didn't know what to say to a female. Didn't even have a clue what to say.
For years, I never told my wife she was beautiful.
Now, when I see a beautiful woman - any woman or girl, and this all comes with age - I say something.
I don't care if they're plump or petite. If they smile, it lights up my day.
And I try to light up their day.
Maybe she's having a bad day.
But to hear from an old geezer that she made his day, she invariably smiles back.
It's not flirting and so far nobody's boyfriend or husband has choked me or slammed me down on the pavement.
I just don't have enough time left on this earth. My health is fine, but time isn't on my side anymore.
I can maybe live 15 more years and cash in at almost 95.
That would be stretching things.
My brother, Rob, knows that I'm looking ahead to finally leaving this racket.
"You'll know when it's the right time," he said recently.
The problem is, I like meeting and interviewing people.
It's the time and the stress that go along with it that I object to.
Still, I'm always on the lookout for new sources.
And they're everywhere.
This past Tuesday, I ran across three young kids, the kind my mother would have loved.
Their mother was on a leisurely stroll, which I interrupted.
Out of the blue.
Can I take a photo of you and your kids for the newspaper?
"Take the kids' photo," she offered.
But her kids would decide if they were game.
Two out of three were in favor, and I believe the middle child was at first iffy.
And here was the oldest, age 10, wearing glasses and sporting braces who said her name was Lauren and she goes to Roseau Elementary School.
Next, Nicky a little boy was asked his age, and he held up three fingers to signify he's three years old.
I held up my left hand with three and a half fingers, and all three of the kids were quite focused on the remaining half digit of my middle finger.
That's when I said, "An alligator did this in 1947."
It's my standard reply with kids ever since I sawed off three fingers on a radial saw on August 11, 1977.
It certainly affected my career as a pianist.
And next Michael, who seemed a little shy, mentioned that he is seven years old.
Because I'm so forgettable, I again asked Lauren how old she is.
"I'm 10," she said, smiling brightly.
"Yes," I said. "You're like me. You're petite, but you're pretty and I'm not."
Her mother and Lauren giggled.
That's when I asked the mother her name.
"I'm Rachel Lindstrom."
At that moment, one of the boys again asked what happened to my finger."
Rachel Lindstrom and her three kids made my day. I needed a fresh photo, and they were a fun and quick interview.
There are certain places where angels work in this community.
They're just doing a job, of course, but there's a sweetness they bring to the job at Infusion Therapy at LifeCare Medical Center in Roseau.
If they're ever having a bad day, they don't show it.
They bring sunshine to a room where many of the patients are receiving chemotherapy or infusions for other infections.
Whether it's Misty or Kristy, Kim or Shirley, Darcy or Sharron, they're beautiful and kind.
And if I misspelled a first name, they'll get a box of chocolates.
Here's how fast time goes.
Look in your photo albums or your cellphone albums.
Look for one when the kids were young or you were a young couple years or decades ago.
Where'd the time go?
Today, I happened across a photo of four of our grandchildren, now all grown up.
They're no longer going down a slide or pulling a wagon or playing in the mud and grinning like little elves.
Those days are long gone.
I miss them in a way.
But time doesn't stand still.
Someday, they'll be in Nelson's Cafe and one of them will say, "Take a look around!"
"What am I looking for?" the other one says, perplexed that he sees nothing unusual.
"Well, we're the old codgers now!"
I hate to mention my dog, Roper, an Australian shepherd, who gained some notoriety last winter when an unnamed critic unleashed her wrath on this household for not properly keeping It inside warm and toasty when it was 35 below.
There was a very good reason.
The dog wanted nothing to do with humans.
Now, the mutt is one of the family - and it still sleeps outside.
The dog is for sale.
Don't tell my wife.
The reason being, he eats blueberries and raspberries right off the bushes.
Just last night, I tested his taste for corn on the cob, which he is now not to be trusted around.
He picked that cooked but cooled off cob clean, and it wasn't even buttered.
The dog goes!