Life lessons learned from two special folk

BY BOB WACHS, News + Record Staff
Posted 6/21/19

If you’ve been on the planet for longer than about 15 minutes then you know you can’t always believe what you see.

We say that in lots of ways – “you can’t judge a book by its cover” …

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Life lessons learned from two special folk

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If you’ve been on the planet for longer than about 15 minutes then you know you can’t always believe what you see.

We say that in lots of ways – “you can’t judge a book by its cover” or “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” or “if it looks too good to be true it probably isn’t.”

But the truth of the matter is that some times, maybe even many times, we sort of like to be fooled. That’s why magicians or illusionists are so entertaining.

Of course, the more serious the matter under consideration – like our wallet – the less we want someone playing around with our stuff and we come to understand that not everything is a magic act.

For the past few years I have begun to understand that great truth in a different way. Years ago my father told me that this day might come and then I would understand.

He was right.

And I do.

My dad was 37 when I came to be. Not old. Not a Spring chicken but not old. He was, in my opinion, a good fellow. I still miss him. We did lots of things together – blackberry picking, frog gigging, playing Rummy and Hearts, eating barbecue chicken, going to the laymen’s meetings at our church, good stuff like that.

Along about the time I was still his little boy but able to walk and chew gum at the same time I developed, at various times, an interest in baseball and football and other sports not played at a card table. While my public performance in those areas left something to be desired, the time spent in my backyard stadium was as good as they come.

It was always me up to bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth and my team down three runs. On a 3-2 count, of course, I always lined a fastball into the upper deck to pull out the win for whoever I was at the moment – sometimes the Brooklyn Dodgers but usually the St. Louis Cardinals. The same was true for football or basketball or whatever was going on, although in those dark ages when dinosaurs roamed the earth those three were about all the sports I knew.

At times during those glory days my dad would be around and I’d pressure or plead or whatever it took – such as my unending promise to mow the yard or carry water to the pigs in the pen in the corner of our property – to get him to play catch with me.

Often he would, understanding in his innate wisdom the benefit to both of us. But sometimes he’d say, “I can’t today; I don’t feel like it.”

More than once, in my disappointment, I’d look at him and say, “But Daddy, you don’t look sick.”

“I’m not sick,” he’d say. “I just hurt.”

That was my introduction to some fellow named Arthur Ritis.

Today he lives with me.

And my dad was right.

But there is a big difference between our experiences, however. At the time my father was feeling his pain, modern medicine hadn’t perfected or even introduced some of the things I’ve benefited from. My dad got by on aspirin or its equivalent, some injections here and there, as much heat – real or in a bottle of Ben Gay – as he could stand, rum-soaked raisins, or whatever was the treatment of the day.

Since turning into my dad, I’ve been able to make the acquaintance of some orthopedic surgeons. Depending on which one is in question, they have given me one new hip, a new knee, several shoulder do-overs and some back relief. I’ve given them in return things ranging from a new Lincoln or Mercedes to half a yacht and the down payment on a tropical island.

But it’s been worth the money.

But I’ve also been given something else in all this.

Now as I move about and interact with folks and they say they’re not up to par, I tend to believe them. You really can’t judge a book by its cover . . . or a person from the outside.

So I’m grateful for that lesson and I appreciate what my dad left me.

And I’d tell you more about it all but I’ve got to go.

Arthur is calling.


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