In the summer of 2007 Jeff and I drove out into the stark mountains of Utah to visit his more remote customers. He was the salesman with my distributor in Salt Lake City and I the manufacturer's representative for the laundry equipment manufacture. Most of my excitement to work in Utah this week was to see the grandeur of nature in this still untamed land. I was not disappointed as we went through mountains and rivers and desert towns. At the end of the busy week of calls on laundromats by day and fly fishing in the evenings we saw the tiny town on the map where Mr. V owned his modest laundry. Jeff said he really needed new washers and dryers but he was embarrassed to take me to this run down little customer who was in his mid eighties. Something said, go see this man.
I now think of him as "Mr. V" because I cannot remember anymore than his last name began with the letter V. Deep wrinkles wrapped his face like the desert wind that blew sand everywhere. He wore a cowboy hat and had gentle eyes that sent some sort of message into my very soul. Some men have that effect.
He asked if we would like to eat some watermelon as his main avocation was really farming. He and his three grand daughters ate watermelon with us and we all grinned because it was so good. I think they got a kick out of watching these city boys lose all interest in business and gain interest in this simple sublime moment on the tailgate of his beat up Chevy pick up.He bragged on them and said they can out work any three boys in town. Their blue eyes beamed with love for the old rugged man. These young girls were especially close to the old man and especially now as his only grandson died a few months back in an accident of some kind. His face grew ashen when he spoke of this 19 year old young man that spent much time with the old man. Then out of nowhere he looked us in the eye with the piercing soulful stare I can not describe and said something along these lines.
" I spent all my younger days working from early in the morning until late at night, trying to get ahead. Working two farms to make more money, when all my kid's wanted was me. It ain't worth it boys. Don't do it, please don't do like I did. What good did it do me? Now I have a dead grandson and a son I don't even know."
He wound up losing the money anyway. He then showed us the modest laundromat and we discussed some new washers and dryers that will never be installed. We said our good byes and we drove in silence, contemplating what he had said. Now when my own four year old daughter says," papa can you play in the sand box with me?" When my mind is clear enough...the words of Mr. V speak to me from that desert land.
No regrets my son...it comes like a whisper from that dusty land...was he an angel? A messenger anyway. Many times I do not listen to his wise words for humans tend to forget so quickly, we are a baffled race. Tomorrow is Saturday and the reports and important business documents will sit idle, Carmella and I have sand castles to build and butterflies to chase.
Regrets can stay in the desert land with the scorpions and vultures.
photo by Dave & baby