A few stories ago, I said to myself, "that's it... I'm done with this thing. Little did I realize that IT wasn't done with me. And just like the varieties of Heinz pickles, I have written 57 little stories. On occasion, I have used this medium to spew out my feelings on certain things while taking leave of my memories of that dear old coal town just off of Route 51. But for the most part, those of you who still read this blog have learned that the fictitious Lake Wobegon of Garrison Keillor is not the only place that makes memories.
On my last visit home, I noted that there are very few people who still inhabit "the Hill" that were around when I was a kid. Other than my relatives who don't even know if I exist, there are only a couple of people left who I wish were related to me in some way. They taught me a lot, mostly by example.
This year, I gave up both of the digits in my age and our year is giving up the last two digits as well. So what have I taken away from my upbringing to use as reference for this new decade?
People are intrinsically nice. And those who aren't can go jump in Spillway Lake. I'd like to spend more time with the good people I know and less time trying to talk myself into liking the jerks of the world. I have learned that smart pills are actually rabbit "pellets" and just because someone says that I'll like something may not be telling the truth. I can list the people that I really like on one page of stationery (if I write small) and I don't really care whether they tell me that they like me too. I learned that swimming in Redstone Creek will turn your skin orange. It's not the clothes that make the man. Never go shopping hungry and never eat anything bigger than your head. Open doors for people even if they don't acknowledge what you just did. Be kind to strangers. Listen when someone talks to you and don't interrupt them; they probably have something important to say. Music should be felt while playing and not played with feeling. Degrees are for thermometers. Drop to your knees and thank God that your grandparents may still be alive. Take the "suckers" off the tomato plants daily. And don't hang out the wash on any day but Monday.
To all of those from Smock past or present, I can only say thanks for all of the memories and we'll see you at this coming year's reunion.
I'll bring the kolatch.