By Gary Miller
As a young teenager, many of my summer days were spent fishing at the local canal. I remember the unique art to catching carp using whole kernel corn as my bait. I also remember the little country store where I bought that corn. What I remember most about that store however, was not my corn purchases but my candy ones. Edna (the lady who ran the store) had a candy counter that was strategically placed just to one’s left as soon as you walked in. The glass front was positioned low enough for the smallest youngun’ to press his nose against and carefully decide just what sugary morsel he would purchase on that day. The patience of Edna had to be God-like.
After all, there were a whole bunch of youngsters that stood in line to make life-altering selections. And while those memories are special, there is still one more that trumps the selection stage. It was the post-purchase loitering. I can remember sitting on the front porch of Edna’s store with my Coke and candy. And I can still remember the wonderful cool sensation that I felt when I would lay down on that smooth concrete during the summer. The Coke, candy, and concrete made for the best recovery after a morning of fishing or an afternoon of baseball. I’m glad she never ran us off. Her hospitality and patience were always taken for granted until we were old enough to realize how special it really was.
That’s the way most of life is. Rarely do we see the value in people or their actions until time has passed. This is especially true for the virtues that lack fanfare. Kindness, hospitality, and patience are naturally provided without pomp. They are abstract and bodiless and thus are lost most of the time in the shadow of more tangible acts. It is only as we pause and look back do we recall these quiet gestures that now stand out as monuments. If you can recall these moments maybe it is important that you make some of your own – to those who may not appreciate them until later. Kindness, hospitality, and patience are like the pocket change I once handed to Edna. It not only buys me initial satisfaction but it also builds a porch for those who need a cool place to rest and recover. And everyone needs that.
Gary Miller can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org