A Little Story
I was camped at Apple Tree Creek up in Central Queensland, at the end of the rainy season. I had already decided to stay only one night, with so much rain this year the mosquitoes are breeding quicker than rabbits on a golf course and have grown to the size of sparrows. The enterprising Tess from Childers has recently gotten herself council permission to set up a portable coffee trailer, where she also sells hot pies and sausage rolls, and is running a very lucrative business selling lunch to the council workers and horrible coffee to the passing tourists. It was here that I met a very depressed and lonely American. Tall and probably in his late fifties, he claimed to have Red Indian parentage, and he dressed as such. But he did have to shave and maybe its ignorance on my part but I have never seen in life or in photographs one who did. He was recounting the different skills of the North American plains tribes to the people that were gathered around the coffee trailer. After a while he took a break from his cultural instructions and armed with a cup of coffee came and sat beside me. Puffed up with his own sense of self importance, he was after all a self-proclaimed expert and the centre of attention; he asked whether I knew any worth-while stories.
“I do know one”.
And I continued.
“Three years ago, this friend of mine, lost his mother to cancer. That was in the August. It was not such a big blow to him because he and his mother were not very close in fact he had not seen her for years. This was after losing his best friend in the June of that year to pancreatic cancer. Then in the September his ex-wife died from lung cancer. So with three deaths in such a short span of time he was feeling very sorry for himself and very vulnerable. Strange how sometimes when someone is taken away from you how your feelings intensify for them and you tend to forget the less pleasant things about them. He was finding little joy in life and was getting more and more caught up with his own self-importance and even started to let his mind embellish the facts of his circumstances even to the point of blowing up the smallest connection to the point where it became all-consuming and his stories were getting very creative with the truth. It was Easter week-end and his daughter called and asked him whether he would like to join her for coffee on the Saturday afternoon. Which he was very pleased to do because like everyone else in his life he did not keep in close contact with her. She felt sorry for him even though he had chosen his own solo path to follow. Then she told him how every day she misses her Mum and the amount of times she has picked up the ‘phone to call her to check on certain ingredients for one of her recipes only to realise that her Mum is no longer here. But she still had her wise, old father and when he is gone she will miss his council but she will be ever grateful for the benefits of having such an ordinary family life that, she believed, made her a good Mum. She was appreciating her children for what they are; not for what she would like them to be. My friend tells me that he sat there for a few minutes in silence musing over what his daughter had said, and then drank the most wonderful cup of coffee he has ever tasted”.
The American rolled his eyes, sighed and slowly rotated his head from side to side and walked away.