Saturday, May 31, 2008

I was just thinking the other day how many weird and interesting people there are in my life. So I kinda got this urge to write character sketches on a couple of them…. Here is one of them.

Bernard Wallace is his name, or just Bernie for short. When I first met him two years ago he seemed to me like the prince of curmudgeons as he eyed me critically from his perch on the porch steps and asked the friend who had introduced us if I could really mow his lawn. When my friend told him that yes, this shrimpy blonde-haired, blue-eyed twelve-year-old could actually do a satisfactory job mowing a lawn, believe it or not, he replied with a non-too-enthusiastic grunt. When I had finished the lawn work, a task not completed without adventure, he was quite pleased with the work I did (even though I left his mower run down the hill, across the road, and into a fence post). I mowed his lawn and weeded he flower beds for him whenever he asked me to, and he took a liking to me. But I soon noticed one thing that bothered me. He never smiled-- never, and I took upon myself the challenge of lifting the corners of his mouth. He complained to me about his neighbors, about the crazy people on the road, about being old, about neighborhood hoodlums, about… well, just about everything. I tried to be positive (Lord knows I didn’t always get it done) because I could see beneath the shell of anger, frustration, pain, and pessimism a heart of gold, and I was determined to uncover it. It was not an easy task, and sometimes I wondered if there was any hope for the man. Then, slowly, he started coming to life. I watched him smile for the first time since I had met him with the same feeling of tremendous joy and satisfaction as when I watch a pet bird takes its first flight. Winter’s spell was finally broken, and spring had come. He learned to laugh; he learned to love; He learned to live to its fullest.

Caleb and me went out to eat with Bernie this morning at Bird-in-Hand Restaurant. He is a really nice guy once the real Bernie comes out, even if it takes him a while to warm up to you. It is really crazy how this guy is changing, and really cool to watch him change from a grump into a friendly man that will actually crack a joke or two.

ok you guys have a really nice day and be good and all that nice stuff,

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