Friday, May 30, 2008

It's the little things in life, right?

A friend of mine told me once that she thought it was, “the little things in life.” She stopped there because she assumed that I would immediately think of some nice little thing that had happened to me and I would be on the same train of thought that she was. Let me make it clear though, I knew exactly what she was saying, what she meant and what I was supposed to carry away from her little sentence fragment. But my off beat sense of humor made me go the other way with her statement. Yep, it's the little things in life alright, Pop used to say that a bit of pepper or a blackberry seed from the jam felt like a boulder under his dentures. That's one of those, “little things in life.”

Outside my window, closest to my bed, there is an auto with one of those long playing car alarms. When someone touches the car, even just leans against it, their small movement becomes, “a little thing in life.” It becomes a half hour symphony of beeps and whines, discord in the key of car. By the same token though, a grain of sand in the right oyster and it can produce a beautiful, “little thing in life.”

I mention these things because of the statement, “it's the little things in life.” The phrase usually is followed with the statement,”that makes life worth living,” or some other statement of conventional wisdom. There is a lot of truth to statements like the one that ends, “that makes life worth living.”

On Tuesday morning, after a long weekend, I opened the newspaper and stopped at the obituaries. I always joke that I look for my name first, if I don't find it then I figure I'll work the rest of the day, right after reading the obits then I read the comics. As a florist though, the obituaries are kind of like our sports page, we look at it first to see what the day might be like, what the score is, if you will. Since people die in the newspaper in alphabetical order, it doesn't take long to formulate a good idea of how things might work and it also lets names jump out at you because it is so organized.

On Tuesday it wasn't a name that jumped from the page and slapped me awake, it was a photo attached to an obituary that stopped me in my tracks. The fact of the matter is, I said rather loudly, “OH NO, it can't be.”

The picture on the page was of the man who owned the beauty salon down the street from the flower shop where I work. The owner of the salon, 40 years old had passed away only the day before and very unexpectedly. In fact, I had seen him on Saturday morning.

He was a handsome man, but whats more he was handsome on the inside and the only conversation that I ever had with him was at the dumpster in the parking lot where he was wrestling a large box into the dumpster and losing. I walked over and said, “let me help you.” After that we waved at each other across the parking lot and you could see his smile across that distance. It felt good to share the greetings and we shared them very often, sometimes a couple of times a day, these greetings went on for years. But the news in the paper on Tuesday was that he wouldn't be there to wave any more. I would see his bright smile in the parking lot no longer.
In this case the feelings were twofold, it is true that it is the little things in life that make it special. That wave across the marking lot made life for me better, it improved the quality of my life and yet, it was a wave, a little thing.

As Tuesday wore on, I realized that it is the little things in life. This man's passing suddenly felt like a bit of pepper under a set of dentures. This loss of a, little thing in life, had that annoying kind of pain, and was not little, it was HUGE. As time goes by I'm sure that I will look out across the lot to wave at my neighbor as he gets out of his pick up truck, but he won't be there. It will hurt like a grain of sand in the oyster, but I realize already that this man, the one who was nameless until I read it in the paper was a man who was allowing me to find a pearl in the oyster, sure that precious gem is small, built of an even smaller thing, but it's value is huge. I have lost something of great worth, but I enjoy the thought that it was the little thing in life, Rusty's friendliness that made my life better.