Every One Counts or Nobody Counts
Francis Schaeffer from L’Abri wrote a book that Jack reads so often that the appearance of the book could be described as ‘shabby’. Dog eared pages, coffee stains on the cover and other signs of good scholarship and a care free habit of Jack’s. Books are meant to be read. Over and over if necessary. Truth is a full meal of life and digestion takes time and circumstance. An irritating and comforting habit for the Gator family. ‘Where’s Papa?’
‘He’s in his chair in the living room, he was asleep last time I looked’ (with a book that is now on the floor or sitting next to him underneath his coffee cup)
Research is entertainment to some people, like Jack. He reads at breakfast a lot. It helps communication with the rest of the family if it is 4 am. Distractions such as conversation and passing the maple syrup are not an issue. Then. Sip the fresh brewed coffee from Berkeley’s storehouse of Jamaica Blue Mountain and Hawaiian Kona with a little Tanzanian Peaberry for the punch. Jack tries to not make too much noise with the grinder. Jack has gone to the length of hiding the grinder underneath his bathrobe when it is running. Anything to further his alone time.
Jack learned all these secrets from a next door neighbor some time ago. When Jack was living in the big city, his next door neighbor was Miss Thrope. She did not care for Jack or anyone else for that matter. Being reclusive, they were both intrigued with one another. Jack was in his twenties and Miss Thrope was a bit older, around 70 or so. A chance meeting at 6 am when they both were taking the garbage out put them briefly together. Quick shy glances and a slight uplifting eyebrow now and then did the trick. They were intrigued as members of the same extended family can be with one another. Miss Thrope said something, a bit sarcastically perhaps. “Like the classic two ships passing in the night, eh Mr.Gator?” Jack immediately responded, “More like two garbage trucks passing down the alley” It was then, the impossible friendship began with a little chuckle from them both.
Jack had to leave the neighborhood because being an academic works if you can get tenure or better yet, a position of a Don or a professor of the literature teaching and syllabus for the courses. Jack, however, had a manual labor job that was ‘up north’. It helped Jack get fit (he lost his conditioning in Boot Camp in San Diego.) Another story in the upcoming collection of stories.
Jack did stay in touch with Miss Thrope via email and such. They skyped and posted pictures on Facebook. Both of them were writers of a ‘different’ genre. The same authors were on their ‘best seller list’ as well. Aristotle, St.Francis, Origen, Pascal, Bunyan, MacDonald, Chesterton, Lewis. Just a few come to mind as this is written.
It didn’t take long for those ‘next door neighbors’ to discover they could talk for hours about an obscure and beautiful writing from Shakespeare or Milton. New stuff flew into their physical mailboxes, Jack as well as his good friend and confidant, Miss Thrope. They critiqued each others writing and columns written. No one knew what to make of it. C.S. Lewis had Mrs. Moore at the Kiln’s and no one knew what to make of them either.
Miss Thrope is now gone from all of us. She wore out herself. She made it to her late 80’s, and Jack misses her laughter and intellect. Two peas in a pot as Stan Laurel said. Jack is still Jack, even though he is married to a wonderful gal and they have three sons. None of them write steady, the youngest shows great promise though.
Jack still eats his breakfast alone most days and retreats now and then to another place in his mind. He likes the description of his life and Miss. Thrope. Her first name was Ann. Put it together, It’s pretty good.