Tuesday, October 4, 2011
He was always there, sitting on his porch and waving at every car that passed.
His house wasn't much, a small one-story place with a cobbled addition that was beginning to sag. The roof on the house was rusty and the place needed paint. He kept his yard moved though; it was just a little patch because his house was so close to the road, and the hill dropped off steeply behind. The outbuildings long ago gave up the battle to encroaching vines and were buried in green graves.
We drove by his place every now and then, on our way to the Ohio side of the river. We looked for him automatically, as one does at a familiar fixture, a landmark along a path. He wore a cloth ball cap and gray work clothes, adding a lined denim jacket in cooler weather. Only in winter would the waver be absent but we waved anyway, certain that he was watching from a window, snug inside his home.
One bright sunny day he wasn't there. The porch looked odd, as if one of its supports had suddenly disappeared. His chair was still there, its wooden slat-bottom showing the wear of years. But the waver was nowhere in sight.
He never returned. Heavy winter snows collapsed the porch. someone strung a high tensile electric fence across the front of the yard and the briars and vines crept into the grass. Windows broke, probably by vandals. The addition lost siding. Vines crawled up to the roof.
Who was he? I suppose I will never know his name, and I don't need to. Where did he go? I will never know that either. But I think of him whenever I pass his former home, remember his hand raising to one and all, creating a bright spot in the day with his simple greeting.
Raising my hand to you, my friends, as you pass by today.