WINTER SMILES

I once had the great privilege of being friends with a man named Arthur Paterson. He was the nicest old man you could ever meet. He had the weight of Santa Clause, a smile you could never forget, and a love for sweet tea. He would always call you “babe” or “superstar” or, in my case, the occasional “little bitch.” All in good humor, of course. He had the best stories, and there were many. We had long drives due to our occupation. We were both teachers for road safety, and we were incredibly good at it. Well, him more than me. We traveled all over the east coast, from New Jersey To the southern tip of Florida. I remember sitting on the beach, and it felt like I was at the end of the world. That nothing could hurt me, and no one could find me. I miss that feeling. The job took its toll on both of us, but we didn’t stop. We never said no to a job, and we rarely complained. We missed our families. Our nights were full of long phone calls of “I love you” and “I’ll be home soon.” Mr. Paterson never let me get lonely or go hungry. We would have dinner together every night and conversate till the old man couldn’t take it anymore, and his bed was calling him. I remember all the stories. My favorite stories were the ones I like to call the Winter Smiles.

Winter Smiles are the stories he would tell of big Christmas dinners. Full of annoying family members and joyful grandkids laughing in the background. My favorite was of a toast he made for his wife at Christmas dinner. She was sick and slowly dying. Cancer ran rapid in that family. You would never know because they were so happy, loving, and kind. His toast was of respect and overwhelming love. He spoke of how his life is the happiest life ever imaginable because she was by his side. He would tell me she was his lighthouse keeper. No matter where or how far they were from each other, she was his light to bring him back home. Unfortunately, my dear friend Mr. Paterson passed away. He died of cancer, left his wife alone, still sick herself, and left a scared young man to fend for himself. No more dinners with my old friend. No more late-night conversations. No more, when I have no one else to hold me and tell me it’s ok. That he will be there. At the funeral I cried so much, I couldn’t control it. I remember the sadness of each tear that fell from his wife’s face. I remember the line out the door of the people, of lives he had touched. I wish he was here now. I wish to hear the soft-spoken words of, “it’s ok, superstar.” He is truly missed, Oh how I miss those Winter Smiles.     

  1. Good morning Joshua Bridges. Thank you for your message Despite all the talk on social media platforms, indulging in retrospection…

  2. Boy you hit the nail on the head. I was getting on my phone to do my daily meditation reading…

  3. Totally agree. When you realise that bearing a grudge hurts you more than the other person, forgiving them is setting…

  4. I understand the struggle to forgive yourself. I don’t know how to do it at times either. I am a…

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