He tried to raise cattle. That didn’t pan out that well. He tried his hand at remodeling houses and pretty much lost everything he had back when he was twenty-one years old. Oh well, that’s the past. And now, oh well, now is all he has left. That’s all any of us really have is the now. We can’t live in the past and we certainly can’t live in the future. Although many of us do try our hand at that even if we can never seem to make it all come together.
He sits there all alone in his creakity old chair. It’s no different from any other time at two in the morning now. The only light in the living room is the orange glow at the tip of his cigarette. Usually says he can’t sleep for one reason or another. Is it a lie? Well, you figure it out. He takes a drag – inhales slow, pushes his mouth towards the ceiling and lets the smoke come out in one slow – long – swirl. Flicks his ashes in the bottom of the rolled up cuff of his jeans and sighs. Coughs and tries to clear his throat. Inhales as the glow of his cigarette lights up the dark room once again. That’s been his usual routine for these past five years.
Just a common man without much education. He’s worked hard all his life – not a paper pusher as he says. But a man who worked with his hands and made a living sweating. Not that he has anything against paper pushers. It’s just he never could understand how someone could get paid to push papers and push buttons on a computer all day long. Never made much sense to him.
Tonight I’m spending the night with Dad. Mom passed away just this past October. Dad seems more restless than usual tonight for some reason. As he shifts and turns in his chair I hear every creak and moan of the worn out recliner from a nearby bedroom. I wish just once he would stay in bed for an entire night!
Well now Dad is making it so that I can’t sleep either tonight. I just had to drive 500 miles from Houston to get here and now this! I wipe the crusted sleep from my eyes, roll over and grab my t-shirt and jeans that are laying on the dresser nearby. I slither them on as best as I can without any light and in the process bang a glass of water sitting on the same dresser. Ice cold water drenches my bare feet. “Man – that water is cold”.
I latch on to my cell phone and push a button so that I have some sort of light to make my way to the living room. I look through the arched door opening to the living room and see that glow of his cigarette staring me in the face. “Hey Dad”. “Hi Son.”, he says. “Why don’t you get up and go to bed Dad?” “I would if I could Son.” “I just keep thinking, maybe I should have got a better education in my life so as to take better care of you kids and your mom somehow.”, he says.
“Oh now come on Dad, you worked 35 years down at the steel company every single day. It was hot and hard work! You gave the best you could to your family.” “And besides that Dad. Do you know you gave me more by not giving me everything I wanted in life? You gave us all a roof over our heads and food on the table. We never once went without food or a place to live. And you taught us about the LORD – not by just what you said, but by what you did.” ” If I had it to do all over though son, I would have gone to college.”, he says.
“Why’s that Dad?” “Oh, to make something of myself.” he says. ” Can I just tell you something Dad?” “When I was a little boy, I looked up to you. And even though I’m all grown up now I’m still looking up to you. I am the man I am today because of you, and even though you might not know it, you’ve made something of yourself. I love you Dad.”
“Thanks son, today you’ve given me more education than I could have ever had at any college”