You may not know this about me.
But the life of a semi-renown nearly famous Southern humorist such as myself isn’t all that glamorous.
Seriously, it’s not.
I live alone with “Doc” the World-Famous Black Lab who I am sure gets sick and tired of listening to me talk and write all the time, and just to prove my point, he just now got out of the recliner, stretched and went back to the bedroom to catch a snooze.
See what I mean?
But this isn’t a pity party, or you would have gotten an invitation in the mail.
It’s not about that at all
It’s about seemingly insignificant things we do every day.
That sometimes, mean everything.
I can admit it, there are more times than I care to admit that I feel lonely.
It’s a hard admittance but it’s true
EDITORS NOTE: Hence the occasional inebriated calls to my friends that I trust with those calls and thank you all for putting up with me.
It’s not that I don’t love Doc and don’t appreciate my closest companion.
Because I do and frankly, I don’t know what I would do without him.
But I also have to confess this, he and I both miss other human beings and this damn Kung Fu Flu has made our semi-solitary life much more so, not that we are as isolated as we were in Tennessee Taliban Country.
That wouldn’t be a true statement.
Far from it in fact.
Just to say that sometimes Doc and I both get the Blues.
I start to think I haven’t done anything.
Nothing of any importance anyway.
As my life gets older, I haven’t done anything for anybody.
We have all been there if we are honest with ourselves.
I was there last night, a little deep in in the misery to be honest.
Then my cell phone rang, and it was an area code “205” number and I remembered,
“O’ Yeah it’s time for the Alabama Alumni Association to call for their annual donation.”
Here is something else you don’t know about yours truly
I love talking to those kids that call from my university.
I don’t just say whatever Blah Blah Blah
I want to know who they are, what their major is, who their parents are and what they want to do in life.
And provide them a little encouragement in the conversation too.
It’s important to me.
So, I answered the call, and said
“You must be from my University, THE University of Alabama for the Alumni Fund.”
I was taken aback when the young lady on the phone calmly said and then asked..
“Yes sir, I am calling from the Alabama Alumni Association; Major Blackwood, are YOU the Bicycle Elf?”
I stammered something, not sure what I said to be honest
But the young lady said, “I have been looking for you for a long time”
I think I stuttered something, while thinking for a minute or two that my Zoology 250 grade at the university was probably being reviewed after all these years and somehow was now in dispute.
EDITORS NOTE: In all fairness I was in the class for three weeks before I realized it didn’t have anything to do with “Zoo’s”. Don’t laugh I told you before I wasn’t a good student…
I mumbled, “Yes, Ma’am I am the Bicycle Elf”
Then she broke me, broke me in half when she said;
“I am here at the University of Alabama because of you, because of a gift from a stranger, a gift that was brand new, that was mine. Nothing against my foster family or the Big Oak Ranch, they have been great to me. But the first NEW anything I ever had came in the form of a bicycle and it gave me hope and freedom.”
I didn’t know what to say to that, which is amazing as much as I like to talk to nauseum.
EDITORS NOTE: In the event you don’t know me personally I can give references to support the above assertion.
So, this young lady filled the void in the brief conversation by asking me for a favor.
But before she asked me for “her” favor she said
“You know we have all read your book”
I was back on my mental game now, and I said with some humor and confidence
“Please don’t go all stalker on me and ruin this feel good moment for me”
She laughed the kind of laugh that’s genuine, heartfelt, like she expected me to finally” “get it”.
Then she asked, “Do you remember the such and so house in 2014 at the Big Oak Ranch …”
Believe it or not, I actually did remember; because still recovering from cancer surgery, I remember everything that Christmas. It’s a gift I assume I get working for Santa.
I said, “Yes ma’am, you got a purple Schwinn woman’s bicycle with butterflies on it..”
She interrupted me with, “AND a matching helmet!”
Then she said…
“I still have it”
My voice abandoned me, and I didn’t know what to say.
So, she informed me the bicycle has had a few tire replacements but is still in great shape and how she rides it all over campus going to classes.
About all I could muster was, “That’s a good thing.”
The young lady on in the end of the phone asked,
“After reading your book am I to understand you don’t have a wife or any children or any family?”
Although that question hit at the pit of my darkness that I was experiencing at the time, I said honestly;
“No Ma’am I don’t”
The young lady said, “Just so YOU know,, you have a lot of children that you have blessed, and they are all yours and I am one of them, and I am grateful for you.”
I did my best to keep my voice from breaking, so I held the phone away from me as I said:
“I just did what the Lord asked me to do, that’s it, I didn’t do anything”
She said (and I love this…) “About that favor…”
I responded enthusiastically (Just to change the subject) with, “Yes ma’am, name it”
She calmly said, “I graduate this December and I want The Bicycle Elf there..”
So, after a minute, I said, “Yes Ma’am I will be there, believe that.”
Then she said “I want to hug the Bicycle Elf’s neck when I graduate and get off the stage, and so you know, I will be attending Alabama School of Law in January when I graduate. “
Once again back on my game, I said,
“Well, since you have read my book you know with my track record, I am need of a good attorney.”
She laughed again and I loved that and through her giggles she said,
“O’ Yes sir that’s a fact and I will be here for you, believe that”
We talked a for a bit longer about what she is doing and what she wants to do in life..
But there is always a pause in a conversation, and I am never good with those kinds of things.
When the inevitable “pause” in the conversation came;
I thanked her for the call and her time and her kind words
“Thank you for what you did for me and giving me hope and (then she paused) and said
“I Love the Bicycle Elf”
I told her I loved her too…
But after the phone call ended, I couldn’t help but think …
You never know what hope or encouragement you might bring to people by the simplest acts.
Maybe it’s a smile and a “Thank you” to a cashier
Could just be exchanging a kind word or two with a stranger
Possibly it’s a friend that takes a late phone call from a buddy that’s had too much to drink.
Maybe it’s a purple bicycle with butterflies on it with a matching helmet.
It all counts my friends
Of that I am sure
There are a lot of things I don’t understand in this life
But I do know this
That one phone call was worth every single big wheel, tricycle and bicycle and matching helmet I ever bought.