Spent all of last week down on the river trying to catch up on the mowing and I had a little tractor work to be done so I called up Mr. Love to stop by to work out the particulars.
I knew he was older from our phone conversation but we'd never met and I was unprepared for the immaculately dressed ancient in the pristine big grey truck that appeared in the driveway late one afternoon.
When I first saw him all I could think of was the line from the old Jerry Jeff song, "Mr. Bojangles",
"He seemed to me to be the eyes of age."
I favor the Branson, Missouri preshow warm-up questions to elicit small talk method (i.e. How old are you? Where you from?) and inquired to his duration and location on the planet.
92 years old. February 14, 1918. Tivoli. Raised with those boys on the Fagan Ranch. Outlived his wife and now lives with his son across from the water tower in town. Never left Tivoli until he went to visit his brother in Houston back in '45. No way to live the way those people live in Houston. Might as well be in prison. People lock themselves up like they were in jail to PROTECT themselves from their neighbors.
If he had anything in Houston he would sell it to get back to Tivoli as quick as he could.
Well Mr. Love can I ask you something? What have you seen in your life that has most changed the world?
I would be afraid to say.
There was an old man that cut my hair for years by the name of Jones. He cut hair until he was in his eighties. I asked Mr. Jones that question one time, "What had he seen in his life that had most changed the world?"
Mr. Jones didn't flinch. He said, "Television." Jones said television has allowed information to pass almost instantaneously and he people could see and hear things they never could before. That's what he said.
How about it Mr. Love? I cajoled. What have you experienced in your life that has most changed the world?
Well sir, the world today is much more dangerous than the one I grew up in.
I'm still not certain completely what sense to make of that but to be 92 and running the roads and conducting a little business is where Mr. Love has set the bar for my old man ambitions.
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