Friday, March 18, 2011

A small look at a simple man

His hair has all turned grey, well what hair he has left. His skin is aged and wrinkly. His steps are short and slow. He just celebrated his 70th birthday. He still wears a t-shirt or a sweatshirt depending on the day. He is a simple man.
This man sits in his chair at the kitchen table and stares out the window at his garage. He has a glass of diet coke and a cigarette. Sometimes he looks at a book or tinkers with a radio or clock. His mind is not as sharp as it once was and his hands shake too much to tinker with those little parts.
As a young man he had little money but worked hard. He started with a trailer and then a large modular. He had a shed. It wasn’t a garage not car would fit inside, but all his tools would. His children’s sleds went in a special place to not take up too much room. When he wasn’t working he spent most of the day time hours out there tinkering and fixing whatever needed to be tinkered or fixed. Sometimes he tinkered with what didn’t need fixing. This was his play time and only to be done if the garbage was taken out and the lawns mowed. He even worked hard in the gardens. He never sat still. He worked on his own vehicles he was a jack of all trades. He could fix anything. When the day ended he sat at the head of the table with his diet coke in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
Years later two of his three daughters had grown and moved out of the home. Financially things were a little easier he could finally have a garage built. The garage would become the place of his dreams. He set up his woodworking equipment and his reloading system. Now when he worked on vehicles he could do it inside. He no longer had to lie on the damp ground. He was proud of his stuff and enjoyed his life. On his days off he would go to local gravel pits and pick up any empty shells that he could find. Then bring them home and reload them. He enjoyed talking to people and would tell them everything that was going on in his life even if he had just met them. He carried a bottle of diet coke and a cigarette in his hard.
When he turned 60 he was surrounded by family. He had recently had a major decline in his health. A stroke followed by a triple bypass. His diabetes had gotten a lot worse and he now had to take shots of insulin. His back issues from when he fell off a tank when he was in the Army had began to flare up a lot. He still spent time in the garage. He barely used any of his tools. Thousands of dollars just sat there. His tinkering focused to Anniversary clocks and radios. He found stuff that he could just do while sitting in the garage or at the head of his table. His family tried and tried to convince him to quit smoking. He had no part in it. He would always tell them that he didn’t fight for his country for nothing and that if he wanted to smoke he would.
A couple of years later he sold the house and land that he had since he was eighteen years old. The area had built up too much and it was getting loud. He went from a three bedroom one bath to a four bedroom 2 bath with just his wife and himself. He had seven grandchildren six girls and one boy. He loved spending time with them and showing them his toys. The new house had an even bigger garage. The garage had a whole upstairs too. He never went up there it was too hard for him. Now he was heavily medicated.  He took sixteen different pills a day, but he still enjoyed tinkering while telling stories as he smoked his cigarette and drank his diet coke.
It’s been almost a year since he has been in the garage. He sits at the kitchen table looking out the window at the garage, still proud of all that is in it. He takes apart clocks and looses the parts. He tries to put them back together and forgets how to do it. He tries to talk to people on his ham radio that he fixed but can seem to figure out how to get it to come in. He is a kind and simple man, still smoking his cigarette and drinking his diet coke.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of those ones that make me so glad I developed Advanced Nonfiction for a course--glad because you really show a lot here and have a chance to spread your wings and soar.

    On the other hand, I don't know what to say to earn my keep with a piece like this. YOu are so in command, in control of your writing, and confident in it--what can I possibly say or add?

    I guess I will add this: you do work that is not overlooked with the garage, the tools, the small repairs, the cigarette and Diet Coke--that stuff is very nicely done, not overdone, not clumsy--those little things carry and guide the reader along to the bigger points behind and allow us to understand without saying anything 'out loud.' Which is exactly right and respectful to both the reader and the profilee.