“I like to think my loneliness hasn’t metamorphosized into bitterness, but I may be lying to myself.” As I sit in my truck in the back of Ole man Johnston’s corn field, I considered the plight of my life. At 47, I’ve aged past my prime, Heck, I can’t do anything with the fervency I once did.
My bed hears me grunt to get up and groan when I lie down at night. My bones crack so much it could be mistaken for gunfire. I am here today to help Mr. Johnston pull corn. As I look out over the ten rows of corn, I just want to drive home and put on my PJ’s.
Such is the life of a retired man who hasn’t hit 50 yet.
Ah, but you didn’t read all this way to hear about corn pulling, did you? More than likely, you wanted to find out if my loneliness has escalated to a point where I am just a bitter old man. Between the Monster energy drink and Tylenol PM, I’ll tell you the truth.
I don’t know.
So much for being a paragon of truth. My nothing-burger answer is perhaps the closest thing I have to honesty. In retrospect, I would be hard pressed to say I am not bitter. Life has dealt harshly with me in the past, but it deals crappy cards to everyone. Facebook wisdom would have me believe that I can choose how to respond to bad situations. I suppose it would be dependent upon the victim’s perspective.
Perhaps, I haven’t matured to the point where I can say wholeheartedly that I’m not bitter about my failure to launch into the thin atmosphere of love. I had a successful enough career in the military. Most days, I am satisfied with my life and my ability to adapt to the various situations which arise.
Mr. Johnston waves his hand to get my attention, I guess it’s time for me to get this corn pulled. Gingerly, I step out of my truck.
“I ain’t feeling it, son. I will give you a call sometime next week to get the corn pulled. Is that alright with you?”
“Yes sir, sounds good to me. You let me know, and I’ll come back and help you.”
“Alright, son. You have a good weekend.”
I barely conceal my happiness. With a tossed hand in the air, Mr. Johnston walks back toward his cabin. I sit in my truck and watch the old man trudge slowly to his porch. I notice his stooped posture, and I imagine me at his age. Time has wrinkled his face, turned his remaining hair white, and dimmed his eyesight. Still, he loves to farm.
Mr. Johnston and I became neighbors after I moved home from Colorado. He had walked over to my new home and introduced himself. In time, we became friends. I was there when his wife Gladys passed away. He was there when my dog died. Time made us friends, but loneliness made us brothers.
After his wife passed, Mr. Johnston was lost. I would find him crying in his barn, talking to his cows. “Oh, Gladys would dote on your calf. She loved ‘em blonde.” About a year after Gladys had changed her address to Heaven, George met him a nice woman who helped him shake conversating with the livestock. Now, he whistles while we work and has invested in a cellphone so his new lady can reach him anytime.
I’ve been a bachelor for almost a decade. Time has packed weight onto my semi-muscular frame, it’s thinned my hair, and brought new ailments to keep me on my toes. What it hasn’t brought me is someone who wants to go on adventures together. Perhaps, I am destined to be alone. Just me, the cows, my dog, and the rocking chair watching the years drift by.
Am I bitter about how my life turned out? It sure sounds like it.
As I drove home, I considered my options. There aren’t many for a person who is, according to his doctors, morbidly obese. Or bald. Or broken. However, I thought I might try to improve some of my less -than -genteel qualities. I could smile more. Maybe I could read a few books and become a master conversationalist.
It sounds an awful lot like work.
The Lord knows my plate is packed to the limit with projects, that I need to get done before winter sets in. My barn needs patching, the roof needs to be replaced on my house, and the fence needs mending.
If I never find love, I’ll at least have work.