Remembering the smile
I had a friend. We were not always on speaking terms, because of time, distance or an infrequent disagreement, but I had a friend. His name was Smiley. Short for Ismael Garcia. He showed up around the front porch sometime after my brother Tommie died and God told me I could live with that. God had already put Smiley in my path.
His father left Ft Stockton before Smiley was born, and Smiley was a couple of years older than I am, and brought his mother and siblings up North to Lubbock. There Arturo, his father, could be observed by my dad plowing the straightest rows and keeping the cleanest fields dad had ever seen. His mother Mary could come to my grandmother's house and help her out there, and his sisters, Patsy, could come over and babysit some cousins, or help with the furniture dusting and such as might be around, or Nancy might ride by way out back on her way to find Mandy and Arthur at the Mercado's, and there he was, in my Grandmother's front yard, inspecting a hummingbird nest, or old rusty broken piece of metal.
Smiley was inquisitive, observant, laughing, respectful, creative, knowledgeable, going somewhere. Did I say respectful? I knew we would be friends. And so we were. Regular adventurers, you know Roy and Gabby, Lone Ranger and Tonto, Mutt and Jeff, I think I recall hearing the most. My new older brother taught me all the things a young man child needed to know to get along in an outside countryfied world of dirt and trees and cotton fields. We kicked rocks, we threw rocks, we sticked rocks, we fought ant hills and poked ground squirrel holes, observed horned toads, and stepped ever so carefully, expert style, down into full irrigation ditches, and packed mud and dirt and rocks and sticks and every combination and composition we could think of, until at last he, yes he alone (except me later) was able to plug up that irrigation tube so it would not run water without a good scrubbing. We, wisely beyond our years and experience, if you know what I mean (wink wink nod nod) called that 'plugging holes'.
You know through all of this, we talked and wondered aloud and figured and surmised and shared and planned and schemed, and until today I never thought there might be a time when we would not be able to talk together, over coffee, over the phone, in front of the TV, or somewhere. But now he has gone on ahead of me to that great gathering behind the sky, and I guess I will have to wait for his excited revelations such as 'Hey there Mr. Dillon, you know if we get to the gun show in the first hour we can get in for a discount', and his short storied inanities 'Hey Rhobert, you know down there in Ft Stockton they don't mess with mowing the grass 'cause they don't have enough H2O to make it grow.', and his amazing dialectic mimicry 'Yavold mein fuhrer, ein spregen ze deutch!' or 'I say old man, is that a high water trowser or a short pant you have on there?', or some Bombay Indian voice and an Irish leprechaun I cannot get anywhere close to, and a dozen others, and that hardly scratches the surface of his repertoire, his talent, nor his spirit. But now I will have to wait.
You know we grew up and found our separate interests, he became Mel, Mel finished 30 years with the same company(Tech U) when most just float around, here and there changing jobs like underwear. So when we got back together a few or more times it was amazing how little had actually changed, and how great it was to have a buddy who could respect the history of the place where I grew up, and knew most of the ghosts who came floating around, and if not by name at least by sight or sound or smell. So to hear and enjoy that voice full of cheer and awe and obscure facts and curious musings, I will have to wait, wait 'til that day when, ready or not, I go to that great gathering behind the sky.
Hopefully, if not the first voice after arriving, at least sooner than most, I will hear Smiley ask something like, 'You ever watch geese flying, you've seen that lopsided V they make, they always fly in a lopsided V? Why is that?’...and I will fall for it--cause timing is the key and Ismael had timing, 'I don't know why?', I’ll say. Then he’ll proffer,‘They fly in a lopsided V because there are more geese in the one side than the other!' followed quickly by, 'Sheesh! dont ya know anything?!'
Smiley was ready, he might not have wanted to go just now, but he was ready, I know ‘cause I asked him a while back. Ya know what he told me? He told me Jesus was the Lord and Saviour of his life, and that Jesus had forgiven him his sins.
Are you ready? Have you found Jesus in your heart? Have you looked? If you have, have you told somebody? Why dont you admit Jesus, and you (maybe you in New York, or California, or Dallas, or even Europe, and me here in Lubbock), we’ll wait and we'll see that smile again, we'll hear that laugh again, we'll be lifted by that immutable spirit that only God could give to Ismael Garcia my friend, my brother.
Run long and hard Wolf Paw. May the grass pad your path, the breeze fill your nostril, the wind be at your back, the dew be fountain for your thirst, the sun keep the chill from your hide and meat slow and easy to catch.