Old Man Ed - Part 1

    This man I knew. He was a good man. Most people called him Ed. The ones who knew him well referred to him as Mr. Parker.

     I met him on a cold Christmas afternoon, a decade and a half ago. Driving home after spending the holiday morning and early afternoon with my family. On snow covered back roads. Lucky for him I was in no hurry. Ed was crossing the highway as I topped over the hill. As soon as he heard the squealing of my brakes, his thumb went out, hitching a ride. Now, I'm not one to give a ride to a stranger. But this old man, well, first impression was a good one I guess. I asked where he was headed. He had a fair distance ahead to walk, had I not come along. He was going home, and had been treading the snow for at least a couple of hours. It was only about 20 minutes for us in my old pickup. So I took him home. He wanted dropped off at the lower gate, maybe 60-70 yards below his house. The house appeared to be exactly everything any single, old, country dude would need.

     I had a "to-go" plate of left-overs that he was more than happy to take in. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas I would drop by and leave a plate of left-overs, which would include seconds of everything that I had eaten earlier in the day. We would sit by his pot-belly wood stove, while he enjoyed the meal. The stories I heard over the years, priceless. Ed would have a story for everything. Our discussions would be endless, it seemed. I soon learned that this old dude was a veteran. He had fought in two wars. The look on his face when he told of his days in the military. I'll never forget that proud smile. Ed could make any story sound interesting, but when he talked of those days, there would eventually be a sign of a tear in the corner of his eye before he finished.   
Ed had no one. No family, no friends nearby.
    Through the years, I would see him walking and give him a ride, to town or back home. Or both if required. Upon his return home, I would help him to the 2nd gate. I couldn't drive past the first gate because the old small bridge made of logs would not take the weight of my pickup. I would ask Ed if his chickens needed to be fed. And I would feed them if needed. I had lived in town all of my life, and it was nice to get a taste of this life. This 81 year old man would become more and more like a grandfather to me. He had chosen this life, and I understood why now. Sure, he had the income to have anything he would want.  But he chose this.
Uploaded 07/05/2011
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