I have a neighbor, and his name is Big Country.
Clad in overalls and a mesh Budlight cap, Big Country encourages me to play "real hillbilly music" and not slip any of that “vegan shit” under the fence for his dog. I'm not vegan and, last I checked, left over bacon wouldn't grace Gwyneth Paltrow's $1000 designer plate but hey, I agree with Big Country on this one. So, no vegan shit for the pooch.
I like Big Country. Most mornings, I brew some coffee and head outside, invariably met by BC drying his clothes on the fence. We talk about life. I don’t bring up Trump and he doesn’t hold against me that I’m yet another privileged, converse wearing hipster with thick rimmed glasses moving into his neighborhood.
This past Wednesday morning, Big Country asks me if I believe in God. I decide to be honest. Well, I say, I believe in kindness and that nobody has the monopoly on good ideas. If that’s God, ok, but I don’t think that’s the whole story. Big Country smiles closed-lipped, takes a sip from his oversized Tennessee Titans cup and squints at me, his crows feet revealing a life spent working long hours outdoors. Trevor, he says, my dad’s sick. You’re a good kid. Pray for my dad. I’m pretty sure God’ll hear ya.
So, that night, I pray for Big Country’s dad. I sit in my living room and allow my mind to wander towards who I imagine BC’s dad to be- surrounded by grandkids chasing fireflies, their laughter easing his labored breathing, willing his withered legs to dance miraculously along with the music of his youth. I imagine Alzheimer’s grip loosening, freeing a gifted raconteur to slalom through memories in triumphant lucidity.
Kindness, I imagine he tells me, has a way of leaving something behind, something you don’t notice until the main event’s passed on, like the sweet kiss of cedar smoke on your clothes.