Thursday, November 02, 2006

Men 1

I saw G outside of his house and drove around the block to tell him the news. I pulled up and got out. He was trying to set pinstripes on a truck with this father in law. He was like this. He often did things on his own. His own parents had died, his mother after a long and protracted decline that included her staying at his and his wife's house as an invalid. One time he told me "you think kids make you old, but it's not until you have to take care of your parents that you really age."

Any way, I really liked G. He was one of the more solid guys I have known. He gave me a cut rate deal on a used bike so I could ride with him. He had a garage full of bikes, a classic jeep, and two cool trucks for himself and his wife. In an aging neighborhood, his house was a standout of flowers, a fountain, and landscaping.

Here's the kicker. It was all paid off. All of it. And he was a middle school art teacher. When he bought his house, he bought it on a 15 year loan and busted ass to pay double for 7 years. He told me once that his house was a 90k house in a 60k neighborhood. He saw the general decline in the neighborhood, but it wasn't all bad. As near as I could tell, he wasn't overly concerned. It was paid for.

On the bike he could kick my ass. A spry 52, he was lean and fast. He was a little small for drafting, and he rode three or four days a week in the summer. He raced in past years, and was still fast. When I started riding with the road club, he would drop off the back to haul my sorry butt back up to the peloton. There was only one year that I could keep up with the group, and I still don't think I was faster than him that summer. He was 17 yearas older than me.

So I pulled up to get out and tell him I was leaving. Even though I hadn't seen him a lot over the last year, I was going to miss him. He was one of those guys that was as solid as could possibly be. I told him I was taking work on the east coast. There was more upward potential. More money. More opportunity.

G wished me well and said he would be sorry to see me go. But it was what his father in law said that really struck me. It was pure Indiana.

Always remember, there's more to life than money son.

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