Friday, January 10, 2014

Hang On To Your Elephant

I was waiting for my flu shot today at the pharmacy. I knew it would be a few minutes so I took a seat. No sooner had I sat down then an elderly man got in line. He stood, bent over, leaning on his shopping cart as it was holding him up. He looked kind so I smiled at his cherubic, basset hound face. He smiled back with a puzzled look on his face. I knew he was searching his memory. He didn’t know me, but he sat next to me to wait. A moment later, another man walked in. They knew each other, but only by family. The old man says, “you’re a Jones right?” He, “yes, and you’re a Smith, right?” They proceeded to talk about the younger man’s orchard of 4,000 trees. This kind of thing happens in a small town where most people live and die in the same county. You can just tell who someone is by the looks of them. They finished their conversation and the old man turns to me and says, “are you still here?” “Just waiting for my flu shot,” I said.

The old man looked into distance. “I could give you a shot. I did that for years, but mostly on animals.” I figured he was a farmer or maybe a veterinarian. He had that look about him. Then he dropped a bomb on me. “Well—mostly on elephants.”
I was drawn in and ready to hear more. “I used to own an elephant,” he said. “A female, Asian elephant. I did a lot of dumb things in my life, but the worst was giving up my elephant.”

Now let’s stop and imagine that conversation. Dad, we love you and we sure love Lola (I don’t know the name of his elephant. It just sounds like it fits a pet elephant) but, you’re going to have to let her go. Let’s all be happy we don’t have to have that conversation with our aging parents.

He went on to tell me that he was the former director of the local zoo. I love our local zoo. This man was a treasure chest and could have talked to him the rest of the day, but my name was called and we had to part ways. So today’s lesson: Hang on to your elephant. She will keep you young.

Names changed to protect the privacy of my companions. I looked this man up. He was telling me the truth, but I still don’t know his elephant’s name. Maybe it was Bertha or Mabel or ...
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