“Well, Kid, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.”
He lifted up the bill of the baseball cap he was wearing, repositioned him self in his lawn chair, took a drink of his coffee and continued.
“I never have made em’. Seemed like a waste of time to me. I just try to be the best man I can be. Sometimes I do okay, other times… well, you know.”
It was 7 a.m. and my elderly neighbor and I were having our morning coffee time together. He called me Kid, and I affectionately called him, most of the time, Old Man.
For seven years we met every morning for coffee at 6:30. If I was not there by 6:45 I was getting a phone call from him. He had said on more than one occasion, that our coffee times were the highlight of his day.
When I first met him, in 2004, he was going through chemotherapy, and our morning talks helped take his mind off the pain he was feeling.
He stood about 5’ 10″ tall. He was mostly bald, had a beer belly, and wore black suspenders, which held up his jeans, because he had no butt. He wore a long sleeve plaid shirt and a heavy-duty plaid blue jacket with holes in the arm. He had worn the jacket for years. It was one of his favorites. Mainly because the jacket was lined on the inside and helped keep him warm.
We met in “The Man Cave” which was nothing more than a lean-to attached to the back door of their mobile home. It consisted of two green lawn chairs with lime green cushions, two old plastic red milk crate’s to set our coffee on, a small oscillating heater, and a radio which only played classic country and western music. There was an old wooden chair, in case there were three people sitting, but it was incredibly uncomfortable. And last, but not least, Old Man had a variety of miscellaneous tools, bolts and screws on two homemade wooden shelves.
It was December 2008. Within a few days 2009 would be arriving. At that time I was struggling with some things in my life that I thought were major “Issues.” That morning as I was talking with Old Man about the issues, and whether I should make New Year’s resolutions concerning them or not. He looked at me and said,
“Kid, be the best person you can be. Just make sure that the person you are at the end of the year is better than the person you started out with.”
His words were so simple, yet so profound.
He went on to say,
“I know these things seem tough right now. I know your heart is hurting. Just remember the hurt, if you let it, can be temporary or permanent. It is all up to you. Are you going to nurse the hurt or let it heal?”
I never forgot his words, and I never made another New Year’s resolution after that.
Old Man is no longer with us. He passed away in October of 2011. Yet, his words still resonate in my mind to this day.
This morning as I sat here and contemplated the New Year that is about to arrive I am looking back on the milestones and the failures of 2012, and I will ask that one question I have asked every year since December 2008:
“Am I a better person today, than I was on January 1st of the previous year?”
With that said, “Happy New Year” with words of wisdom from the Man Cave.