Thursday evening I fixed dinner for a friend who is moving far away. Actually he is more of a friend of my daughter and son-in-law than he is a friend to me, but he recently replaced an exterior door and doorframe on our home. He mentioned at the time that he was soon going to embark on a journey to find work elsewhere. He sensed it was time to move on.


At any rate, I promised we’d have him over for dinner before he left. As I calculated my time left at my place of employment, I realized the end is near. Truthfully, the thought isn’t all filled with the thought that “I can hardly wait”. While I look very forward to the next chapter in my life, I find myself at some level wishing the previous chapter was not quite finished.


Do you ever get caught up in a book and wish there were more pages to read as you get near the end? I guess it is true of all of us. When I texted the young man to invite him to dinner, I didn’t know the General was going to be out-of-town. She left on Thursday afternoon to take her mother back to Odessa and is staying until after her mother’s doctor appointment next week. Consequently, I was the short order chef. Trust me, when I fix dinner it is a simple meal. At the same time, I wanted it to taste good. Why not go with the tried and true?


On Wednesday evening I texted my daughter and son-in-law and said, “I’m going to grill a steak tomorrow night. Would you like for me to throw one on for you as well?”
Andrea responded by asking if the eight paws were invited as well? Of course, I knew without giving it a second thought that the invitation to them would include their two dogs. If I wanted them to come, the dogs would have to be welcome.


In my effort to keep it simple, I decided to do everything outside on the grill. I even unpacked the new grate I had ordered for my Portable Kitchen Grill. I don’t know how many times I’ve replaced the grate, but it has been many times. I’ve had the cast aluminum grill since 1974. It has taken me a while, but I’ve learned to cook on it. I’ve been asked many times why I didn’t a get a gas grill instead of going old school and using charcoal. The people asking the question don’t get it. The charcoal grill gets a lot hotter and I’ve got the formula down to a fine art.


I didn’t tell Andrea and Kevin that their friend would be here for dinner as well. When I issued the invitation to include them, I didn’t want them to feel obligated. Consequently, they accepted the invitation for dinner without knowing they were going to visit with more than just me.


Andrea seemed a little concerned after I put the steaks on the grill. I also mentioned corn on the cob and grilled asparagus. She said, “The corn is going to take a lot longer than the steak”. Of course, I knew she was in error. This was not my first rodeo. Like I said, “The secret to cooking is having a really hot grill”.


For medium to rare steaks, five minutes on each side is usually just right if the steak is thick. For corn on the cob, ten minutes on the grill will cover that as well. The asparagus probably didn’t need that much time, but I like it crisp. Eating a meal that I prepare is a lot like one-stop-shopping. It all comes off of the grill at about the same time.


Maybe it was the company, but the meal couldn’t have gone better. Even my daughter and son-in-law were extremely complimentary and they know how to cook. There were even left overs, so my lunch on Friday was covered as well. Like i said: “One stop shopping works for me”.


The friend who is leaving town arrived a few minutes before Andrea and Kevin. I asked, “So how are you doing with the move?” Of course I knew that his circumstances have to be a little more anxiety producing than mine. At least with me, I already know what the next chapter looks like. With him, it is more like Abraham going out not knowing, but trusting God for the roadmap. I gathered from what he said that he is looking forward to the adventure, but he is a little anxious about the unknown.


In dismissing the anxiety, he said: “I live simply. I don’t have a lot of stuff and I’m getting rid of most of it before I leave town. I’m packing everything I’m taking with me in the back of my truck and a 5 X 10 U-Haul trailer. He plans to leave town at 4:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.


For the first leg of his trip, he is going home to drop off most of his things. Of course, like he said, “He isn’t taking much with him.” He mentioned that he decided to part with his trumpet. He said, “I dropped it off at the school’s band hall. I wanted it to go to a student that needed a horn. I don’t play it much any more. Why not let someone needing a horn to have mine?”


My next question was: “Do you play other musical instruments?” He said: “I come from a musical family. I can play the piano and the guitar. I even started out by taking violin lessons in grade school. I really like music.”


As he talked about his plans and his priorities, the highest on his agenda is first responding to some needs of friends who’ve moved on and left some of their things in his possession. Consequently, he is returning what they left behind and didn’t have room to carry.


He is heading first to Ohio where his mother lives. He’ll spend two or three days at home and then head westward with his two dogs and a truck filled with his must haves and the items he is returning to a friend that moved to Victoria, British Colombia. He is also visiting a friend in Seattle before he goes to British Columbia.


Once he’s done with that leg of his journey, he’ll start looking for work. He said, “I’ve got some money saved and I don’t require much”. At any rate, as he talked through the evening about the things that are important to him it occurred to me that he is a caretaker. He takes care of people. I mentioned that to him and he said, “I learned that from my family. We’ve always taken care of people; particularly older folks who didn’t have anyone else they could count on.”


Long story short, after sharing an evening of conversation and from my perspective a perfect steak, I find myself wishing we had shared more time earlier. A true treasure is leaving Texas and he’ll probably never return. What an uncharted adventure he has in front of him. He will add much to whatever location he eventually finds to call home and he will make it better. Like I said, “He is a caretaker”.


All My Best!



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