No one came by. No one every knew that he existed. Taking up space, breathing new air, heart beating. One lonely man, one of many million living here on earth.
A veteran, served in the war. Memories of gun shots and bombs. Captured by the enemy. Watching his friends bleed to death.
A mama so proud and papa, a hard worker. Worked the land by hand with his mule. Saturday nights everyone in the household got their weekly bath. Mama mending torn socks, sewing on buttons, letting the hems out. Sunday mornings spent at the tiny wooden school. It was converted into a church one day a week. Mama would take the wax from the candle and find use for it somewhere. Mama was what we today would call a hoarder.
Papa was a proud man. Wouldn’t take a dime from anyone. I can remember many a day eating rice or beans. Mama would try to make it interesting by adding different spices or bits of left-over meat, but rice was rice and beans were beans when it was all said and over.
From the time I was old enough to understand I helped Papa with whatever he asked. There was no asking questions and no arguing allowed. I was taught to respect my elders or get whipped with a tree switch.
Once a month all the neighbors would get together and have a carry in dinner right after church. Oh how I looked forward to those days. A boy my age could fill up on anything sitting in front of him. I can still remember Mama asking the women folk,”where does that boy put all that food?”
I became the center of attention as I could stuff my body more than anyone else could. Then after we were all done eating, us kids would go to the old swimming hole and wear ourselves out, leaving the old folks to talk the afternoon a way.
Us kids would be so tuckered out our parents never had to tell us it was time to get ready for bed on those nights. Slipping my night-clothes on and pulling my tattered quilt up to my head my eyes would shut before my mind even had a chance to think about it.
Yep, those were the days. We were poor but we were happy. We wanted but needed nothing. We learned and we taught the younger kids. Life was good.
Now here I sit, out by myself. Everything my Mama and Papa had taught me remains sharp in my mind. I can whip me up the best tasting soup ever. I can shoot a rabbit and once a week have a grand feast. I take a bath when need be. I don’t take a dime off of anyone.
I got my dog for company and my God to guide me. You did good Mama and Papa. You taught me well. I am just fine. I am poor but I am happy. I want but need nothing.