The Sitter by Ron Shaw

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A good book can add color and adventure to your life… one bench at a time. Take a seat, have a read, and taste life!

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The Sitter

Not so many birthdays ago
a tale was presented to me.
Every day for twenty years
my travels carried me down
and up a busy, city highway
passed an old, wrinkled man,
sitting beneath a big, lush tree,
talking to it as if it could see
and hear the stories he related.
Regardless of weather, he’d be
seated on a small, stone bench
just inside a short, iron fence,
circling the attentive pecan tree.
One evening, on my way home,
I stopped to finally learn what
this scene could possibly glean.
With back to me, a weak voice
said, “Young man, have a seat.”
After an easy step over the fence,
quietly, I took the offered bench.
“Allow me to present ‘Dog’ to you.”
Sir, I don’t see a dog, only this tree
and that stunning cane you carry.
“Dog likes to play catch and the
cane’s here more for him than me.”
I’m sorry but I don’t understand.
“No, you wouldn’t, but you will.”
“Thirty years ago to this December,
a young boy made a Christmas wish,
living not 3 front porches to our left.”
“Like most residents of these projects,
his family was as poor as you’d expect.”
“His Mom knew what he wanted but
his dream gift was beyond her means.”
“The lad wanted a dog. It was his wish.”
“The 25th arrived and Mom decided to
give her son that which he had requested.”
“Taking him by the hand, she walked him
outside, leading him to this scrawny, sickly,
little tree. Son, this is your dog and it’s
the only one we can afford to keep. He’s
yours. So name him what you will, but
know that you will be responsible for his
every need. This dog belongs to you alone.
“At first, he was confused about the whole
thing, but he named his poor, tiny tree Dog.”
“Winter turned into spring, summer coming.”
“The boy decided Dog was even better than
the real, four-legged thing because his bark
had no bite and he knew exactly where his
Dog would be, waiting for him. Over time,
he nursed his pet back to ideal health, and
every spring puppy saplings would sprout
beneath his branches. The boy would tend
the young, transplanting them when ready.”
“Look around you and see how exquisite
they’ve turned out to be. The years flew by.”
“The young boy turning into a mature teen.”
“Twenty-two years ago, the little boy, then
a teen, was struck by a vehicle, killing him
not ten yards from his Dog who happens
to be a glorious monument to a caring soul
who was willing to see the worth in another
living, grand thing that was gifted to him.”
“If you look on the opposite side of Dog you
will see a plaque, honoring a young boy and
his Dog who beautifully remains a pecan tree.”
I sat there, quietly, beside this gentle, worn man
while he spoke tenderly to Dog, teasing him
with raised cane. It was the most amazingly
serene thing I’d done during a life half the age
of the old man and puppy years to Dog, the tree.
With the sun fading away, I bid goodbye to my
new, storytelling friend. In parting, a sad smile
covered his drained and weary face. Suddenly,
dawning on me, praying that this grieving man
had found forgiveness for accidently taking a teen
away from his Dog and the tending of his trees.

Copyright © 2016 Ron Shaw

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