Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Legacy of Love

The House by the Side of the Road
by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

There are hermit
souls that live withdrawn
In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran;-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house
by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house
by the side of the road,
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears-
Both parts of an infinite plan;-
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened
meadows ahead
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice,
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my
house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish- so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?-
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I'm not sure that when Walter Foss wrote that poem, he was talking about living on Highway 68. Charlie loved to tell how when he moved to Coker Creek, you could set up a card table in the middle of Highway 68 and play all day without being disturbed. His constant complaint was about all the trucks and crotch rockets barreling past his place at breakneck speed. I'm not sure what upset him most about that the fact that Bootsie, his cat, couldn't roam free, or the fact that none of those barreling past his place ever stopped to say hello.

It didn't matter what time of day or night a person drove into his driveway, Charlie greeted that person with a smile and a hug...and a story. Charlie had stories about everything from his childhood adventures, to rum running, to religion. He said what was on his heart and mind, and lived what he believed. He was the only person I ever knew who actually thanked me for arguing with him without getting (in his words)"all pissy."

One of his favorite sayings was, "A hypocrite I'm not; a Christian, I am." We know that Jesus' time on the earth was spent collecting people, feeding them, loving them, and leading them on the road to salvation. Charlie lived his life doing similar things. He seemed to know everything about whatever he loved, and couldn't wait to take you along to enjoy what he loved with him.

If ever one wanted a tour guide, Charlie was your man. It was often a wild ride taking a tour with Charlie. He'd drive these curves with one hand on the wheel and one eye on the road. How we ever stayed on the tarmac is a wonder to me, as he was usually turned toward the person to whom he was talking. Now Charlie is, I'm sure, giving tours of heaven. I figure that The Almighty needed a great tour guide who could make getting to heaven look like a fun ride.

We all leave a legacy when we physically leave this earth. Some leave great fortunes to continue the work of their favorite charities; some leave laughter and love. Love is the legacy of our friend Charlie. He truly lived on the side of the road and was a friend to every man, woman, and child that crossed his path. I'm so glad to have been one of those people.

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