Friday, August 20, 2010

Cold Cup of Water, Redefined

On the way home from the store this afternoon, I saw an elderly man sitting in the side of his yard near a garden. Worried that he had overheated, I pulled the Suburban over and walked to where he was reclining. Now, rest assured, had I one less scruple than the Lord intended for me to have today, I would have taken a picture of this fellow in a heartbeat to share with you. He looked wise, about eighty-years old or so. He was dressed in a pair of blue jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt that I could see beneath his long sleeve, plaid, metal-snaps-for-buttons dress shirt, and a rubber hat that resembled the one in the original Jungle Book movie. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a well dressed man as much as the next woman, but when the heat index is over a hundred degrees, too much is, well, too much!

“Are you okay?” I asked him once, and then a little louder when I realized he couldn’t hear me.

“I didn’t know God was sending me visitors today,” he quipped. “I would have washed my face.”

“Oh, your face looks just fine to me, but I think you got too hot,” I said. “Can I help you?”

At this point, he shaded his eyes so he saw something other than the sun when he looked up at me from the ground. “Well, little lady, I guess this is what you call a pickle. I left my water inside the house there and I am a mite hot. Dizzy, too. I ‘spect I could ask you to go get it for me but I can’t be disrespecting the mister, if you know what I mean.”

“You’re worried my husband would be upset if I went inside your house for you?” I asked, not sure I was following his lead.

“Well, right is right and wrong is wrong. I ‘spect you’ll just have to sit with me and be hot yourself.”

At this point, I remembered that one of my purchases waiting in my truck was a gallon of Milo’s Tea. I can honestly tell you that I was pretty sure super sweet tea was not the best of options for this man, but I know enough to be confident that it was better than nothing. “I’ve got a drink in my truck,” I offered.

“Well, why didn’t you say so?” he asked with a prize-winning smile.

When I returned with the tea, I explained that I didn’t have any cups, to which he reassured me, “I don’t mind drinking after you.”

So, I spent half an hour sitting beside my new friend. We swapped that gallon container at least a dozen times and I shared it with him swig for swig. After we’d downed about a third of a gallon between us, he reclined on his elbows and talked in that ‘I’m too lonely to care that you’re a stranger,’ kind of way. He shared with me a few nuggets of wisdom that I wanted to pass along to my friends.

1. If you dont’ work, you don’t eat. This is the wisdom I received when I asked him about his vegetable garden. After he said it, he shook his head as if I’d completely figured him out and said, “Yeah, I’m a Republican.” Adorable!

2. I didn’t have to stop. And he probably wouldn’t have died if I didn’t. But I would have missed out on getting to meet someone who’s been around for a long time. (His words, not mine.)

3. Young people need to learn how to build their futures as well as they’ve learned to build trouble.

4. A good Mama is the kind of Mama who tells you something so clearly that even seventy or so years after she tells you-and thirty-one years after she’s gone to Glory, you still cringe at the thought of her seeing that you came out in the heat without a jug of water.

5. It’s not safe for women to drive a truck as big as mine. (The country girl in me took this as a high compliment!)

6. Old folks can make the best of friends.

And finally, he told me that Jesus was a real guy and that I could talk to Him and tell him my ‘quandries,’ but I ought not use Him to get my way. Nobody likes being treated that way. He’s seen a lot of that in his days, by the way. He also said that he God’s people should get ‘comftable’ with improvisation cause sometimes a cold cup of water can really be a cold jug of sweet tea.

And so, I made my way home with a smile and a story. And, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to know that I was a ‘mite’ more thankful for our encounter than he was.

1 comment:

  1. I found your blog by way of your Aunt Ann. She & I go to church together. :) I just wanted you to know that I was so touched by this post. I missed out on a potential priceless opportunity like this one - I wish now I had taken the time to stop.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It's a great reminder that sometimes we need to just stop and listen....and care. I look forward to reading more of your posts! God bless!


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