Kay and I find ourselves back in the old hometown this weekend for the wedding of a favored nephew. I do not have a niece or nephew that I would say is “not favored,” but they seem somehow special when they step into the spotlight on momentous occasions such as this. Glad we are here.
Trips to the old hometown are not infrequent as the roofing distribution company where I make my primary living has operations here. In fact, we still operate from the same facility we built back in 1989 when I was branch manager here. So much is the same and so much has changed.
Some of the good folks who worked for me back then have moved on; some have even passed on. Two are branch managers for other roofing-oriented distributors and a handful of key folks are still working for the branch. Some have continued on with careers in the roofing industry and some have gone into other fields afar from construction, such as the one who became a police officer and the one who became a fireman. I am proud to have worked with them all and I am really proud to continue working with the ones still around almost 15 years after I moved to the big city.
I was able to visit with one particular gentleman this morning who came to work at the branch around the time I was packing to head north. Our visit was in his room at the extended care facility where he spends his days dealing with The Big C. To understand his situation, all you have to know is that he is under the care of the local hospice organization. In spite of being well cared for in an institution surrounded by people who either care for his pain or who share it, he lives a singular and frightening existence. After praying for him daily for several months this was my first opportunity to visit with him.
Mr. Jackson’s days of working hard operating a forklift and doing just every single little job around the branch may be over. We hope not, but the reality of his medical condition has been classified as “beyond the point of no return.” I do not want to believe it and do not have to until proven otherwise. My daily prayer is that he will have peaceful days without pain and that he will once again appear on our yard with the ubiquitous smile and floppy hat that we took for granted for many years.
Mr. Jackson does have a first name but I do not use it here for two reasons. One, to somewhat protect his privacy. He does not desire fame or attention. Two, because that is how I have always addressed him. He does not know and I have chosen not to tell him (yet) that I always called him “Mr. Jackson” because I truly honor the work he does as a member of our team. It was never the “glory” work of a salesman, manager, or CDL driver. Mr. Jackson took out the trash, pulled orders, unloaded vendor deliveries, and everything else on the yard and in the warehouse. He swept up and made sure things flowed smoothly.
The reason I always liked seeing Mr. Jackson and addressing him as such was the reward of his infectious smile. On seeing him I simply say, “Mr. Jackson,” and this great smile lights up his face. He loved his work and it showed - a great lesson for everyone in our firm from the CEO to the ones who perform the “dirty hands” tasks around our warehouses, yards and offices. A great lesson indeed.