AFTERNOONS WITH ROGER

Call it chance.Call it a coincidence.I call it the Lord bestowing abundant blessings on one of his troubled children.

I’ll explain:

Every day when I go to get my papers to deliver,there is a sheet showing any changes in the route.One day a few weeks ago there was notice of a customer stopping his service.The name looked familiar.That afternoon,I called the number on the sheet.

‘Is this Roger?’

‘Yes.’

‘Were your parents named Chellis and Myrtle?”

‘Yes.’

‘Roger,this is your nephew!’

‘Little Ricky?’

I got flushed…nobody had called me that in 50 years,save my beloved granny,who called me that until her last days.Roger is the youngest  of the four children grandpa and grandma had.I hadn’t seen him since my aunt’s memorial service some 13 years ago.I didn’t figure I’d ever see him again unless somebody contacted me about his funeral.I was so excited I could barely contain myself.We talked for over an hour and I told him we’d stop by the following Monday since my Aunt Evelyn was off work.Yep,78 years old and still working as a cashier at Bergners Department store here in town.

The odd thing is,they live literally less than 5 minutes away.When we arrived I promised myself I would shake his hand and give him a one-armed man-hug.When he opened the door and I saw his always impish smile and snow-white hair that plan went to hell.I threw my arms around him and hugged him as if I was trying to hug grandpa,granny,Uncle Ron,Aunt Gloria and Mom all at once.We all sat in the living room and talked for almost 4 hours about what we’d all done with our lives and shared some Diet Pepsis.I sat and listened to him for a very long time,not wanting to miss anything.

Besides their four grown kids,they have 13 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.Roger still helps his grandson install windshields every so often,but he was always looking for ways to make a buck.They were buying houses,fixing them and selling them for a profit as far back as the fifties.My Aunt Evelyn can completely redo the interior of a house.They owned a B&B in Galena,Ill., U.S. Grant’s home,for 6 years.They bought a condo near us,then got a deal on a unit two buildings down and moved again.

UR told me what it was like growing up during the depression.He was born in 1932,so he came up just before WWII.He enlisted in the Air Force and served in Korea,maintaining the hydraulic systems on F-84 and F 86 jets.He said it was really hot in the summer and unbearably cold in the winter.I have been lobbying shamelessly for one of AE’s German chocolate cake.She said as how she hadn’t made one in years,but hopefully I can convince her.There are few things I would put on a level with Grannys gooey,cinnamn-y apple pies….my cousins’ Grandma Nordstrom’s rice pudding with the 1/2″ thick custard on top and Evelyn’s Greman Chocolate cake with the yummy coconut frosting.

We took a bus trip up to Ho Chunk Indian Casino at the Wisconsin Dells one day.I’m not a gambler,since I’m the world’s worst loser.DW loves to gamble but she’s not very lucky. AE is,and UR is like me…he determines what he can afford to lose and never goes over it.The trip was $35,but they give you a like amount in gambling credit when you get there,so the trip is actually free.With Evelyn working and DW spending time with her grandkids,her BFF and this week she’s going to see her dad in Richland Center,Wis.,Roger is home alone with two dogs and they only have one car now.So,I go over and we talk about things of importance and downright silliness.There is no need for pretense,since he knows me about as well as anybody in the world.We share a commonality we don’t have to talk about…we just know.

We took a day trip from Lena,Il along a route called the Stagecoach Trail,since that’s what it was originally,though Apple River Canyon all the way to Galena.The entire town is one big antique mall,but from living there UR and AE knew how to miss the traffic on the main streets.We made plans to visit Dubuque,IA,which has a dog track,two casinos,a magnificent river walk and B&B’s along the limestone bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.There is a place high on the bluffs called Eagle’s Point Park,where you can see Iowa,Illinois and Wisconsin all at once.

It probably sounds stupid being excited about getting back together with family,but it’s the last link to my childhood and the happiness I knew as we all gathered at Granny’s table on Sunday to be a family for a few hours before everybody went their separate ways.

Re-connecting with Roger came at a time when I was completely burned out over politics.(When I mentioned Obamacare,he just said ‘death panels,’ so he’s one of us.) It had to be what God’s plan for me was. I asked him why he stopped his newspaper service and he said it was because they raised his rate .50 per week. Imagine,a guy who probably still has the first dollar he ever made,who paid cash for a brand new car for Aunt Evelyn,quitting over a half a buck.If he hadn’t,I’d have never known he was there,since we only get delivery addresses for our regular route.

I thank the Lord for easing the burden and lightening the heaviness I’ve been carrying.None of this would have happened without Him.

8 Comments

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8 responses to “AFTERNOONS WITH ROGER

  1. Beautiful story, Pete. Thanks!

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    • Yes, Pete!! I need a tissue. ::sniff::

      My dad had a gambling system … money he was willing to pay for the entertainment and could afford to lose in his left pocket, winnings in his right. When his left pocket was empty, he quit. If he had anything in his right pocket, he was happy. If not, he was happy. My father was good at that … being happy.

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      • Pete … thanks for your post again. I never thought about my dad like this before … as a man who had a real knack for happiness. But he really did and I’m so glad I finally realized that about him. 🙂

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  2. GP

    What a heartwarming story. So glad you were able to reconnect with someone who meant a lot to you. Hard to believe you lost touch when he was only five minutes away! You guys need to get out more. lol
    I think I have been to your Aunt’s B & B! We were going to stay there but it was booked. Galena is a great town a full of history. Few people even know that Grant was from IL. Why is he buried in Grant’s tomb?
    Hope you have many more happy outings with your reclaimed family. But please nix the diet coke. Haven’t I taught you anything? That stuff is toxic.

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  3. Ting

    Awww. I loved every word of this. So happy for you, Pete, and for Uncle Roger, too.

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  4. Hey, Little Ricky, great story! Thanks for making my day. ♡

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