For those of you that don't know, I volunteer my time at least once a month to fulfill what I see as my civic duty. I go out with a few others to feed the homeless women and their children in Charleston, South Carolina. I look forward to that day, the last Tuesday of every month. I think that everyone should give back to their community in some way. Sometimes when we give back, we may end up spending an hour doing something that will significantly impact someone else's life. More often than not, when we do these things we do them not only for those less fortunate, but just as much for ourselves. I feel sorry for the person that wouldn't understand that simple fact.
I've lived on a golf course for five years now; and yet, I've never once played a round of golf. I'm just not moved by the game, but I know plenty of people that are. I used to say that one of these days that I'd get around to learning to play; but hey, who's kidding who?!? I'm just not interested in playing golf. One thing that I am interested in doing is getting some daily exercise. So everyday I hurry home from work with the intention of walking around the golf course behind my house. For the most part, I do walk the golf course daily. As a matter of fact, there are times when I walk around the golf course more than once a day. Last summer I made a concerted effort to cut back on red meat and fried foods, drink more water and exercise daily. By doing that last year I lost around 35 pounds.
When I'm walking around the golf course, I'm usually very focused on getting around it as quickly as possible. I also try hard to avoid the golfers; because to be honest, some of them are quite nasty and most of them don't want me out there anyway. If they miss a putt, it's my fault or if they hook a tee off.........you can bet I'm to blame. I'll usually wait patiently for them to take their shots before hurrying around them. When I walk, I do keep my head on a swivel; because I'd prefer not to get hit in the back of the head by one of those hard little white balls. I've never been hit, but I've encountered some angry little men out there playing and they're not above saying something nasty or warning me to be careful, since they haven't quite perfected their games. They usually say that with a smile. As I said before, I've never been hit. But I reserve the right to find whomever is the first to hit me and beat the living shit outta him. Trust me, I'll do it.
Anyway today while walking along the golf course I walked up on an elderly gentleman alone playing a round of golf. It's not unusual to see individuals playing rounds of golf by themselves, I see men like that everyday. Just like everyone else, I waited patiently for him to take his shot, before trying to move along and go on my way. As I hurried along, this older gentleman actually followed me in his cart. When he had pulled up alongside of me, he greeted me. He then got out of the golf cart and walked up to me and started talking about the weather and then he started talking about golf. I wanted to turn and leave for two reasons. First, because I was in a hurry to finish my walk and go home and eat.........I hadn't eaten all day; and secondly, because I wasn't feeling particularly well. All week long I'd been dealing with a severe cold. To be honest, my head felt like a frozen pineapple. The gentleman, Mr. Butler (he'd introduced himself) then started talking about politics (one of my favorite subjects......he was a staunch conservative) and his time spent fighting the Germans in World War II; and then on to the real reason that he wanted to talk to me. His wife of more than 60 years (he was probably 85 or so) had died the previous month. When he said this, he unashamedly wept openly. He spent the next half hour talking to me about his wonderful wife, his daughter from Abita Springs, Louisiana, his son who lives in Florida and about a bunch of his war buddies........who were now mostly deceased. I was seriously moved by this man. Not because we had anything in common, because we honestly don't. But because when I looked into his teary eyes, I could see myself in the future. When we finally shook hands and I turned to walk away, he looked at me square in the eye and said "thank you".
Most people don't really know me. I tend to hide so much of myself. I remember one of my business associates laughing and saying that I was probably the world's first living heart donor....since I rarely showed emotion at work.
Volunteerism and giving back have always been important to me. I'm not rich and I probably won't ever be, I'm okay with that reality. So often people try and validate their existences by their material worth. All this man wanted was for someone.......anyone to spend a few minutes talking to him. He needed that, just like sometimes we all need something. The time that I spent talking to him was time well spent. I can only hope that decades from now when I need someone to talk to, that someone will take the time to talk to me too.