Butch was fifty-five when he enrolled in outpatient hospice services with terminal cancer. He recounted, “It sneaked up on me and bit me on the rear end. They told me there wasn’t any cure for me, so I’ll just live it out this way. It gets worse every day but I’m still out hustling. I’m helping someone build a horse barn down the road. But I’ll pay for it at the end of the day. I’ll be hurting pretty bad.” Butch’s wife Carmen stated, “I told him he needs to slow down”, Butch explained, “I know the day is coming when I’ll be stuck in this house. So I’m going to get out of here as much as possible for now.” Carmen shared, “But he gets depressed sometimes.” Butch looked up at me and admitted, “Yeah, I get pretty depressed dad.” I replied, “It would be an insult for me to try to say something to make you feel better. I think you’re supposed to feel the way you do. When I’ve been down and not able to pull myself up by my own bootstraps, I’ve needed something outside myself, I’ve needed inspiration.” Then Butch replied, “There’s this group that I love to listen to! I especially like their gospel songs.” Then Butch Google’d, “Home Free”, on his iPhone and we listened to a few of their songs. Then Butch exclaimed, “I’d love to see them in concert! That sure would be a neat concert wouldn’t it dad?” Butch calls any guy older than him, “dad”.
About two weeks later; after a tug on our director, Teresa’s, heartstrings, and soliciting the help of Sheila, our billing specialist and unofficial travel agent, we were heading to Louisville in a new 2017 white Dodge Charger from Enterprise to see “Home Free” in concert. Carmen and Butch had reservations at the historic Galt House Hotel and I got to spend the night with my daughter, Mandy, and the family in Louisville.
It was a sold-out crowd at the historic Brown Theatre in downtown Louisville. We were seated in the middle of a long row of theatre seats when Butch leaned towards Carmen and I and said, “I think I’ll get us some drinks in case we get thirsty after the show starts.” Butch squeezed his way out as the other patrons stood to let him through. He returned about ten minutes later with three cans of Coke and furiously exclaimed, “They charged me nine dollars for three Cokes! I could’ve bought four twelve-packs for ten dollars back home. They robbed me and they didn’t even have a gun! That’s not right dad!” The more he thought about it the more worked up he became. Butch couldn’t let it go. He insisted, “I’m going back and ask them why they charged me nine dollars for three Cokes.” So Butch squeezed back through the long row and returned about ten minutes later. I asked, “So how did it go for you?” Butch replied, “When I asked the girl why she charged me so much she told me, ‘I don’t make up the prices I only sell them.’ Then she grabbed the sign on the counter that had the prices on it and said, ‘Here’s the sign. It says right here, three dollars a can.’ So I just shook my head and walked away.”
When the show started I glanced over and saw Butch sporting his Fedora hat and clapping and singing along to his favorite songs. During the intermission, Carmen confided, “I’m really surprised that he agreed to come. But he’s really having fun. He really needed this.”
On the way back home the next day Butch was ruminating about how he’d been “robbed without a gun”; how he couldn’t believe they charged him “Nine dollars for three cans of Coke!” Then I suggested to Butch, “I think I’ve figured out why you can’t let it go. It’s not the nine dollars that’s bothering you. It’s because you knew what they were doing to you and you let them do it anyway.” Butch replied, “I think you’re right dad. I knew what they were doing to me and I just went with it; and then the girl said, ‘Here’s your sign!’” (YouTube, “Here’s your sign”, by Bill Engvall). We all started laughing so hard I could hardly drive. Butch said “Man, this is funny stuff dad! You can’t make this kind of stuff up.”
So what’s the moral of this story? Perhaps another story will answer the question: “A successful businessman, who grew up poor, enjoyed buying his mother exotic gifts every Mother’s Day. One year he decided to surprise her. So he bought her two birds that cost $5,000 each. The birds were exceptionally intelligent and gifted; they could dance, sing and talk. He had the birds delivered to his mother and waited a few days to call to see how she liked them. When he called and asked, ‘Mom how did you like the birds I sent you?’ she responded, “They tasted really good son’. Horrified, he exclaimed, ‘Mom, you didn’t eat them, did you! Those birds cost $5,000 apiece, and they could dance and sing and talk!’ Then she replied, ‘Well son, then they should have spoken up and said something.’’’ (“One Nation”, by Ben Carson)
I’m sorry Butch, but I didn’t have space to write about the $3,000 I spent on four replacement windows, “Here’s your sign!”
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center-Hospice, and can be reached at 740-356-2525 or at email@example.com. You can order Loren’s new book, “Straight Paths,” online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.