A guy has to have an ego the size of hot air balloon to write an autobiography. If I write one it will be here, and in tags and tatters only, here where the words are anything but chipped in stone. Besides, there’s not all that much to write about. Better to put what there is on a small screen, thus making the words available for easy removal with a click of a key, rather than applying them to stone, or paper.
Oh, forget about autobiography. What follows isn’t even close.
At not quite the proverbial Three Score and Ten, he realized he had spent a lifetime trying to do more than his DNA had planned. That meant plenty of falling down, thanks to overreaching. At time the impacts had the feel of second heartbeats.
Rags and tatters, to be sure! Such as the time he was delivering magazines to an outlet in Vienna, Illinois, and sprained his ankle so hard it made a sound as though struck by an unseen meteor! His crossing the street in downtown Vienna, with an essential body part swollen to the size of a small cantaloupe, not to mention the pain topping eleven on a scale of from one to ten, would prove unforgettable.
The magazines were delivered in spite of everything.
Recently, I had a letter from a contributor to Springhouse. Age and ailments had at last caught up with him, he said, making the physical act of writing nearly impossible. Even the short letter I held in my hands had required retyping many times over, except for the last paragraph, which was exactly as he had typed it. Hardly a word in four was spelled correctly; for the most part the last paragraph was unreadable. He had given it his best and now could give no more.
It was the most moving letter I ever received.
Reading, or, really, trying to read it, sent me back to the man with the cantaloupe ankle. Sure, it was stupid for him to continue walking when the pain was so great, and any foot doctor worth his fee would have bawled him out to the tune of “Stay off that foot, you dolt!” Still…
I thought of the people I’ve known who kept on keeping on until they dropped. I thought of my grandmother, who worked in her garden by the creek until the day she had to quit. I doubt if Grandma read a word of Thoreau in her life, yet she lived by that man’s best-known word, thrice repeated—
I told you rags and tatters are the best this piece has to offer.
Anybody who knows anything knows such throwaways are held to be worthless.
I also know Grandma took rags and tatters and turned them into quilts that are now beyond priceless.
P. O. Box 8,
Herod, IL 62947