Once in a while in my life I’m reminded of the fact that people are still good.
That the human race as a whole doesn’t stink.
Now that I got that out of the way – let me try to put down the experience in a way that even makes sense to me.
Many years ago while walking on one of my hiking trails – my time with God as I’ve come to call them, I came upon one of the biggest beaver houses I’ve ever seen in quite some time.
Stopping and looking at this engineering master piece I was amazed.
As I continued to walk around I found small sticks that were left behind – never to be used for this animal’s home.
To say that there were a lot wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
Anyways, I found several pieces that would, in my mind, make an interesting walking stick.
(Should I ever find the time or better yet – make the time for one of these pieces of wood.)
Finding my way home, and taking the wood from my trunk, making a small wood pile by the side of the house, and telling my dad what I had seen and explaining all the wood.
Dad being himself just says, “Sure.” Adding in. “Would you like some help?”
“Sure pop. That would be nice.” That was that. The end of the conversation. The end of me even thinking of the small wooden pieces of sticks. Just the end. So I thought.
Months later I was cleaning up around the yard, filling the many bags of fallen leaves from our tree.
A little side note here folks. When I was young and growing up, I’ve always wanted a home with a lot of trees. Being an inner city kid now living in the suburbs thinking, ‘What the hell was I thinking at that age?’ as I lifted the last bag onto the huge area I needed for all the leaf bags. Watch out for those dreams of youth, they just might come true.
Anyways, back to that pile of sticks.
Having finished up and coming in to clean off, I had asked my dad about the wood I had brought home. Seeing if he remembered or if he had moved them?
“Sure.” He says. “I threw them all away with the trash weeks ago.”
“You did!” “Why?” I asked.
“They were just sitting there on the ground not doing much of anything but taking up room.”
“Well, I was going to make some walking sticks with some of them one of these days pop.
It would’ve been good to know you were going to get rid of them.” As I finished washing up my hands at the sink.
“There weren’t any real good ones for making canes anyways.” He said, coming into the kitchen with his empty plate and coffee cup. “Besides, you had all summer. It was time for them to go.”
“You’re right pop.” Trying not to be to upset at my dad. “Maybe I can see if there’s still some more by that beaver’s home one of these days.” As I got my own supper and sitting down at the table to eat.
“Well you had plenty of time if you really wanted one.” He said, moving back into the living room. “Thanks pop. You’re right.” I said. Trying not to get mad all over again as I finished up my meal and washing up my dishes and that was that.
The end of the conversation. The end of the subject. So I thought.
As the holidays come flying by as they do once fall comes around.
Treats for the kids in scary costumes.
Family and friends for turkey and more.
As the morning comes around the tree handing out gifts to love ones is here.
Dad comes out of his room telling me to hold up son, I have one more that I didn’t place under the tree. Getting up off the floor I see him standing there with a stick in his hands.
“Here.” He says, as he passes my gift to me.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“It’s a cane from that pile of wood you were going to work on. I cleaned it up and sanded it down. Stained it up so you could bring it on one of your walks.”
I was so taken back I didn’t know what to say. Well that’s not true, I did know.
“Dad, I thought you threw them all away. Telling me that there weren’t any good ones to use.”
“I lied.” He says with a smile on his face. “I’m old. You can do that when you’re old.”
“Thanks pop. Thank you very much.” And that was the end.
The end of the conversation. The end of the subject. So I thought.
Many years have gone by and that walking stick has been through a lot.
To the ocean, to some mountain tops.
To winter strolls, to neighborhood summer parties.
To camp fires, to quiet walks alone.
To baseball fields, to flea-markets too.
It has gone on so many trips within the back of my truck and has been a staple in almost all of my walks around town that people have even asked, “How much?” or “Where I brought it from?”
That it even surprises me when I tell them that my dad had made it for me years ago out of some sticks I had found by a local beavers house.
So as time passes as it usually does things change.
Some for the good some not so much. But that’s life.
I even brought my cane to my father’s funeral.
Now having picked up my life and slowly start back to the living I found myself going back on those small walks with God.
That should be the end. The end of the story. The end of the conversation. So I thought.
So here I am walking around the streets of a giant size pumpkin festival with my other half and friend. The small children playing dress up and enjoying the fall weather that’s rolling in.
Just enjoying life.
‘Til I had to find the line to relieve myself.
Having found the right line and asking God to please have these people in front of me hurry up so I may go.
I was next in line, moving up and standing in front, I place my cane upon the ground and it disappears right out of my hand!
Looking down at my feet standing on the fallen leafs I found myself kicking at the ground to uncovering a sewer grate that my cane went down.
Just lying to one side quite a ways down.
I had found myself just standing there with complete shock and the need to relieve myself gone.
To say here that my heart was broken would be an understatement.
The emotions that welled up in me were so many that I couldn’t even if I wanted to, put them down here in print.
Needless to say it was my father that came to the surface of my sorrows.
It’s truly gone I thought. That part of my life – that gift from my dad. Just gone.
That should’ve been the end. The end of that part of my life and those journeys. So I thought.
I can’t tell you what the look was on my face as I turned to my friends, but I can guess it was shock. They both looked at me with sympathy and asked if I was okay? Would I be alright?
It’s just a stick I thought to myself and telling them, “Yeah.” – But meaning no.
“We’re so sorry.” My friends said.
“What will you do?” Is all they could say.
Well I would like to tell you that I moved on.
That I stopped thinking that some part of my dad that has been with me for so long was now lost.
That that was the end, right – Nah. I prayed.
Prayed hard to just be okay with the situation.
I started walking again with my friends – but my mind was in overdrive.
I started looking for someone in charge.
Someone that works at this festival that might be of some sort of assistance.
I came upon a young man closing off a small section with rope and I approached him and explained to him what had happened.
Let me try to put it down the way he said it to me.
“Is your father okay?”
“It’s in where, a sewer?”
“Oh man dude, I don’t know?”
“It’s crazy around here.”
I thanked him for his time and turned away with a heavy heart.
My friends telling me, “Well you tried.”
So we started walking again. Being pulled into the large crowd of people.
Thinking to myself, now what?
As we walked we came upon some men cleaning out some trash. I approached one and expanded myself.
He stopped me in mid-sentence saying, “No man we just pick up the trash and walked away.
One of his co-workers over hearing my woos came over and said to try the tent where the fire station is. Maybe one of those folks could help out and he too turned and walked away.
“Well we could try.” Said one of my friends.
But the overwhelming feeling that it was lost to me started to set in. Then we turned and started walking in the direction of the stations tent.
Now when I say to you that there were a lot of people at this fair – there’s no way I can explain it unless you’ve been to a big sports game.
The Mall on Black Friday or a Zombie Apocalypse. Just a ton of folks.
We could start to see the fire trucks where the tent was as we walked.
Hearing the children playing around them having fun.
Then all of a sudden that young man I first talked to was standing right in front of me saying,
“You’re that guy with the lost stick, right?”
“Where did you say it was?”
My God – my heart skipped a beat!
“It’s right over here.” I pointed.
The young men looked and whistled.
“Damn it’s down there isn’t it?”
“Yeah.” Was the only thing that I could come up with to say.
With the look on my face, and my thoughts of my dad, he opened up the sewer and jumped right in. Climbing out and handing me back my walking cane saying, “Here yeah go man.”
“Oh my God.” I said and pull him into me for one of the biggest hugs I had ever given to someone in a long time.
“No big deal.” He said with a laugh.
But it wasn’t just a ‘No big deal’ as he said.
Seeing him get swallowed up by the crowd with my friends standing there looking at me saying,
“That was incredible!”
“We were just talking about how we should help you – but you seem to just walk through it and never give up.”
“That was so cool what he just did!” They added. And that should’ve been it.
The end of the conversation. The end of the subject. The end of the story. So you’ll think, right.
As we headed out and started walking again talking and laughing about our lives and where we’re at in them right now. Hearing the children playing and enjoying life I couldn’t help but think of my dad and thanking God once again we walked upon that same young man not hard at work this time but with his family instead.
Holding his two small children’s hands being a dad and having fun.
With a heart full of joy and a chill in my soul, and thoughts of my father and God, I walked over to him and gave my deepest thanks and with my cane in one hand, I shook his hand with the other.
As my friends and myself walked back into the crowd, back into life, with my head held high with gratitude in my heart to once again be reminded that good people are alive.
That there’s still some goodness around. If I only stop and look around.
While holding my cane, my gift from my dad.
Taking that next step for more journeys ahead.
I stopped and I prayed saying thanks again and holding very tightly that hope is still alive within the human race,
along with my walking stick…