My good neighbor, “Sweet Sugar Smith” and I were enjoying a cold bottle of water after I had endured a long day of drenching goats. As usual, he stopped by to check on me late in the evening to see if we were making out all right.
“Well, did you get them all worked?” he said.
“ Yes, I did. Those nannies are not near as easy as they were ten years ago and you just get one good shot at those big billies.”
He looked off into the sunset for a bit.
“ You sure have to get on those stomach worms early in the ballgame. Now that you have that knocked out and your hay is planted, you and Nanna planning on taking a trip this year? Maybe get away for a day or two? Might do you both some good.”
“Sugar, as much as we might like to do that, there is so much work to do all the time around here, we just don’t have the time. I have mesquites to spray, two gates to hang, extend these working pens where these goats are a little easier to work. You know, it just never ends. Besides, Nanna is fine with getting a burger at the drive-through and an ice-cream cone. We been doing that for over fifteen years now. It is our little special time. I figure when we “officially” retire one day, then we can go out and do some site-seeing. She has always said she wants to see Alaska on a cruise boat. Those things last seven days. Can you imagine what kind of train wreck these goats could get into in seven days without me being here?”
“Besides, Nanna likes to sleep in her own bed at night. She probably would not even enjoy one of those things. There is a lot of folks on them and you know I get all jittery when there is wall to wall folks around.”
We stood there, quietly looking off into the beautiful sunset. Sugar looked at my chalk marks on the old goat pen piping.
“ Looks like you did quite a few today!” He bent down and picked up the chalk marker off of the ground.
“These things are too expensive to be leaving on the ground, I reckon.”
He walked around to the edge of the small shed.
“ Ok if I do a little drawing with your chalk? Don’t want to mess up your old shed.”
“ Have at it” I said.
Sweet Sugar drew a straight line and then drew little upward lines on it in equal proportions.
He drew a 0 on the left end and the number 79 on the right end. Then, he split up the remainder into four equal parts. The numbers on the timeline were 0, 19.75, 39.5, 58.5 and then 79. He stood back and looked at his work before turning to me.
“ BJ, how old are you?
“ I am 59 years old. Why do you ask?”
Sugar plotted my age on the timeline and then marked through everything behind it.
“ Well, everything behind the 59 years is history. You can’t do anything about it nor can you ever get it back. The 79 on the scale is the average lifespan of an American male, or it used to be. I have not checked it lately. That means that if you do live to be 79, you have 20 years left on the planet from right now.
Now, how many hours in a day do you spend sleeping BJ? “
“ I am not liking where this is heading. I try to get 8 hours of sleep, you know that.”
“ Fine, now we will take off one-third of that twenty years for sleeping. That leaves you 13.4 years left. You sure do sleep a lot. Now, how much time do you spend working, BJ? And don’t lie to me, I have eyes you know.”
“ Well, maybe 10-12 hours a day? You know how much work there is to do around here, Sugar!”
“ Just for the ease of math, let’s lie and say you just work 8 hours a day, not counting your little afternoon nap you take. Now, the way I figure it, that leaves about 6.8 years left for just living and maybe doing just a few of the things that you want to do, but more importantly, the things Nanna wants to do.
We can arrange to look after things for a week and make sure the goats and horses are tended to while you all take a little trip. ”
Sugar handed me back my chalk as he turned to walk away. “ Got to head home. Come see us sometime.”
I watched the sun go completely down as I looked at the timeline Sugar had drawn on my old metal shed. The goats had calmed down and the nannies had already paired up with the kids. It was time to get to the house and have supper with Nanna’s mother (Big Mom) and her cousin (Jody).
Slowly, I eased towards the house and the aroma of the chicken and rice casserole wafted through the room, as I opened the back door. There in her kitchen, stood Nanna, in her mama’s old apron.
“ I see you did not get beat up too bad by those mean nannies. I hope you are hungry.”
I kissed her on the cheek while acknowledging her mother and cousin in the living room with a little wave.
“ Nanna, it’s high time you get a week off and somebody else does the cooking, I said quietly.”
“ BJ, what in the world are you talking about?”
“ Get on that computer tomorrow little girl and go to looking. We are going to Alaska. Even better than that, I know how much you liked that little fishing trip at Lake Buchanan on our honeymoon. Instead of a cruise, we can go fishing for king salmon on that Kenai River in Alaska. I read one time that those are really big fish. You could catch your very own! We could stay in a little cabin down by the river close to the moose and bears. You know, just being around nature. How about that?”
Nanna wiped here hands on her apron and gently held my face in her hands.
“ You are sweet to think of me like that. Let’s just take a cruise instead. You won’t have to do any work.
“ Did someone say Alaskan Cruise?” Said her mother.
Practical advice for the day
“ Never attempt to give your wife money when you forgot her birthday”
Until Next Time