Our Mena Community Chorus is part of a concert at UA Rich Mountain on Thursday, February 13th, the day before Valentine‘s Day, a day of love. Last Monday, at our rehearsal, our director, Stephanie Tapley, requested that we send her photos of ourselves with those we love, to be shown as a background for what we sing.
In my situation, that photo search was a little difficult. Both of my wives have passed away, the latest, Mary, in October of 2012. The nearest of my four children lives over 400 miles south. My only sister is about 100 miles north. My parents have been gone for decades. My lifestyle, though very active, is being an 82 year old man, living alone in a used single-wide mobile with no pets.
One of my photos sent to Stephanie was of me and my four children standing together in front of an Organ Pipe cactus just south of Why, Arizona, in July of 1973. We were making a meaningful camping trip, which my youngest son, age four at that time, today does not even remember.
Life does take some strange turns. I was born and grew up in Indiana. While in the 6th grade my hobby became cactus plants. That resulted in our whole family taking a vacation trip to New Mexico and Arizona. In Earlham College my major was Biology. At Earlham I was part of a foreign study program in Mexico during which I discovered an unknown population of species of tall cactus. My discovery extended the known range of that species over 100 miles.
My Biology teaching career was in Las Cruces, New Mexico. After divorce and retirement I moved to the Mena area where I met Mary in OLT. I have now lived more years in Mena than either Indiana or New Mexico.
Earlier this week my needing some special oil-based paint caused me to make a special trip to Fort Smith. To cause such trips to be more enjoyable, they always also include eating at special restaurants and going to a movie. This time the movie was, “Little Women.”
After the movie, parked outside, was one of the largest semi-trucks I had ever seen. The trailer was pure white on the outside, On the back a man was standing on a large platform that was lowering him down to the pavement. He asked me and another fellow what movies we had just seen and how we liked them. My comment on “Little Women” was, “It is complex but worth it.” His comment was, “I don’t need complex.” He told us he was delivering popcorn to the theater. On that day he had started in Memphis and would end in Rodgers.
To me everyone is important. I wanted his traveling to be safe so I told him, “Be careful.” He thanked me, then I made my way to my little white pickup truck. As I drove toward the parking lot exit, I again felt my concern about him, and realized he was alone and so was I.
However, something new struck me. Even though we do not see them, there are people out there who love us. That thought lingered with me much of my drive home, and is in my background still this very minute. Even though we do not see them, there are people out there who love us. They are there. Right now, they are there. Even when you are alone, remember, they are there.