My old friend moved away. He didn’t want to but he had to, he said. He’d lost the ranch along with a marriage.
He didn’t blame it on luck. He didn’t blame it on God. He isn’t superstitious or religious, though he does like gospel music.
He worked hard to provide for his family. His friends know him as a salt of the earth guy.
We gathered on the eve of his departure. We shared memories. Laughed. Cried. And finally gave him a round of hugs.
He said he’d miss his old familiar haunts. He’d miss all of us. He assured us he’d be fine. Kin had turned up a vacant house for him up some holler on the edge of the world with a whiff of cellular service.
It’s true he’d lost a lot. But he still had his vintage pick-up and his shaggy dog. And that was enough, he told us.
A few days after he left, I called to see how he was doing. We spoke of old friends, health, and the weather. He said that where he lived there was no weather. I live so far off the beaten path weather doesn’t come out this far.
That’s a long way from anywhere, I thought. Are you sure you’re all right?
Absolutely! I got a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and a rocking chair on the porch. I got my truck and my dog. I’m doing fine. Really!
A month or so later, he took his truck in for its annual inspection. It failed. He put it out to pasture and bought a used car.
Next, his dog got sick. He took it to the vet. He spent every penny he had to give it a chance. It died.
And that, I thought, would kill him for sure.
I saw him a few months later. He looked good and sounded great.
I didn’t think you’d survive the loss of your truck and your dog back to back, I told him. How did you?
God helped me, he said.
I guess we’re never too far off the beaten path.
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence. If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. Psalm 139