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Non-fiction

The Greatest Gift I Ever Gave Away

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Sometimes the Mile seems so long …

‘The Green Mile’ had some fabulous lines and Wild Bill’s lament about not getting any cornbread wafted through my mind, along with the closing line about how long the Mile seems, as I walk-limped along Pine Street.

What had happened was, I walked outside this morning, full of pep, ready to go to church. Jumped in the truck and … nothing. He wouldn’t turn over.

A few irritated stomps, some loud prayers denouncing whatever was coming against me, and a text to my mechanic later and I was on an even keel again. Today was supposed to go like this:

  • Go to church
  • Get car towed to the mechanic
  • Drive to friend’s house to finalize a bit of paperwork

Instead, I didn’t go to church and since neither vehicle was running, my friend came to my house to finalize the paperwork, and I rode with the tow truck driver to drop the car to the mechanic.

I’d made up my mind to walk home. Mind you, I have been fighting an issue with my ankle in which I first surmised it was a fallen arch. Since then I have concluded it is some combination of issues that cause regular discomfort. Walking a mile and a half was probably not the best idea, especially since my mechanic offered to drive me home.

But no. I needed this.

I set out after reassuring him I’d be fine; his primary concern was the large intersection around the corner as there have been a number of horrid accidents there. I indicated that I am a long-time east coast jaywalker and would be okay. I navigated said deadman’s crossing with no issue.

I was more concerned about the small gaggle of tweens that were doing whatever it is that tweens do on a sidewalk along a neighborhood road on a Sunday afternoon. The youngest, a girl, said ‘Hi’ and one of the boys commented on my T-shirt. I waited for a snide comment as I got farther down the way, but none came.  I fell into a rhythm and began to enjoy the sound of bees in the flowers that lined the city-maintained grassy areas.

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On foot, home feels far away.

Each step took me closer to home and gave me time to ponder my next moves. I couldn’t wait to get my car back, but I was sad about having so many issues with the truck. I couldn’t think on the negative for too long though, because I was surrounded by such a beautiful day. I got to the corner where I needed to make a left and noticed a young man sitting on the electrical box. He was smoking and drinking. He smiled as I approached and I smiled back. I commented on it being a nice day and he replied that he was enjoying it. I said, ‘It is supposed to get back to 90 by next weekend,’ as I smelled what wasn’t a cigarette in his hand. He expressed that he was glad he’d gotten off work early enough today to chill for the rest of the afternoon. We wished each other a blessed day and I continued.

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There are two too many intersections still to go …

I came upon a disheveled driveway; the trash cans had spewed some of their contents along the fence. I kept looking to the west, hoping not to draw the attention of whoever was closing a door to a vehicle parked there. ‘Hi!’ a small voice called out. I looked to the left and waved at a small boy, walking toward the front door, and continued on my way. A moment later, I heard the sound of someone walking rapidly behind me. ‘Excuse me,’ the same voice called. I turned and saw the small boy. ‘I didn’t have anything to do with this,’ he said as he handed me a plastic bag with about eight pennies in it. ‘Here’. I thanked him and we went our separate ways.

I clutched the bag, wondering if I looked homeless. I had on jeans and a T-shirt from my church that was done in honor of the people who died in San Bernardino last December. I was carrying a refillable water container in one hand and a walking stick (in case a stray coyote wanted to have a closer conversation than I might like) in the other. I did not look homeless. As I walked on with the coins, I thought of the story of the widow’s offering in the Bible: this boy put in all he had. He had given it to me with the admonishment that he’d had nothing to do with the act, as if something had compelled him to do it.

I got a bit farther to the west and could see my right turn ahead — a left, a right, and a walk up the hill to the corner after that and I’d be home. Before I reached the corner, I ran into a grandfather, father, and son. The little boy was about three. I stopped to chat about the weather (a regular topic during walks around here) and told the grandfather, who was standing closest to the little boy, about how I’d come to acquire the bag of pennies. I asked if it would be okay to gift them to this boy. ‘Go ahead, give them to him,’ the grandfather said as the father looked on with a smile. The boy said thank you and I was off again after we all wished each other a blessed day. It was the greatest gift I’ve ever had the honor of giving away.

It made me realize I had nothing to fear or be sad about when it comes to the decisions I need to make next with regard to my vehicles. The message was clear. The answers to my prayers were coming and had nothing to do with me …

The miles have seemed so long these last few years, but it could be so much worse. More importantly, the future awaits and it promises to be glorious.

Nearly home.

Nearly home.

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