A guy discovered that he had a flat tire and pulled to the curb. He realized that he had stopped in front of the local mental health sanitarium when a patient ambled up to the fence and began teasing him.
He ignored the patient’s catcalls and insults while he carefully took each lug nut off and placed it in the hubcap as he removed the tire. While trying to install the spare, he inadvertently knocked the hubcap, which spilled the lugs and all five nuts fell into the nearby storm sewer, falling beyond his reach.
The patient howled with laughter as the guy, at the end of his patience, began to vent about being stuck there until a tow truck could arrive. The patient told him, “I can help you.”
The guy glared at him and said, “Sure you can.”
The patient said, “No, really, I can help.”
The guy reluctantly asked how. The deranged patient then said, “Take one nut off of the other three tires and put the spare on with three lugs. Then you can safely drive to a garage for the other nuts and get your tire fixed.”
The guy thanked him and asked, “How did a guy like you ever think that one up?”
To which the asylum patient replied, “Nuts are our specialty around here mister…just sayin”
One day on the way home from church a little girl turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, the preacher’s sermon this morning confused me.”
The mother said, “Oh! Why is that?
The girl replied, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?”
“Yes, that’s true,” the mother replied.
“He also said that God lives within us. Is that true too?”
Again the mother replied, “Yes.”
“Well,” said the girl. “If God is bigger than us and he lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”
A census taker walked up to a woman who was sitting on a porch. After introducing himself, he said, “How many children do you have?”
The woman answered, “Four.”
The census taker asked, “May I have their names, please?” The woman replied, “Eenie, Meenie, Minie, and George.”
Confused, the census taker said, “May I ask why you named your fourth child ‘George’?”
“Surely, because we didn’t want any Moe.”
An elderly woman and her little grandson, whose face was sprinkled with bright freckles, spent the day at the zoo. Lots of children were waiting in line to get their cheeks painted by a local artist who was decorating them with tiger paws.
“You’ve got so many freckles, there’s no place to paint!” a girl in the line said to the little fella.
Embarrassed, the little boy dropped his head. His grandmother knelt down next to him. “I love your freckles. When I was a little girl I always wanted freckles,” she said, while tracing her finger across the child’s cheek. “Freckles are beautiful.”
The boy looked up, “Really?” “Of course,” said the grandmother. “Why just name me one thing that’s prettier than freckles.”
The little boy thought for a moment, peered intensely into his grandma’s face, and softly whispered, “Wrinkles.”
A couple was celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. Their domestic tranquility had long been the talk of the town, and on this special occasion, a local newspaper reporter paid them a visit. He inquired as to the secret of their long and happy marriage.
“Well,” explained the husband, “it all goes back to our honeymoon. We visited the Grand Canyon and took a trip down to the bottom of the canyon by pack mule.”
“We hadn’t gone too far when my wife’s mule stumbled. My wife quietly said ‘That’s once.’ We proceeded a little farther when the mule stumbled again. Once more my wife quietly spoke: ‘That’s twice.’ We hadn’t gone a half-mile when the mule stumbled a third time. My wife promptly removed a revolver from her purse, hopped down off the beast, and shot the mule dead.”
“I started to protest over her treatment of the mule when she looked at me and quietly said, ‘That’s once.'”
Carl was a quiet man. He didn’t talk much. He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.
Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII. Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs and drug activity.
When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister’s residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up.
He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened. He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him. Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, “Would you like a drink from the hose?” The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, “Yeah, sure,” with a malevolent little smile. As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl’s arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl’s assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled.
Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running out to help him. Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn’t get there fast enough to stop it. “Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?” the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet. Carl just passed a hand over his brow and signed, shaking his head. “Just some punk kids. I hope they’ll wise-up someday.” His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water.
Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, “Carl, what are you doing?” “I’ve got to finish my watering. It’s been very dry lately,” came the calm reply. Satisfying himself that Carl really was alright, the minister could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.
A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before, their threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose. This time they didn’t rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water. When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done. Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering.
The summer was quickly fading into fall. Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack. “Don’t worry old man. I’m not going to hurt you this time.” The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl.
As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl. “What’s this?” Carl asked. “It’s your stuff,” the man explained. “It’s your stuff back. Even the money in your wallet.” “I don’t understand,” Carl said. “Why would you help me now?”
The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. “I learned something from you,” he said. “I ran with that gang and hurt people like you. We picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it. But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn’t hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate.” He stopped for a moment. “I couldn’t sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back.” He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. “That bag’s my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess.” And with that, he walked off down the street.
Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.
He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather. In particular, the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn’t know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church. The minister spoke of Carl’s garden as a lesson in life. In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, “Do you best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden.”
The following spring another flyer went up. It read: “Person needed to care for Carl’s garden.” The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister’s office door. Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer. “I believe this is my job, if you’ll have me,” the young man said. The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl. He knew that Carl’s kindness had turned this man’s life around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, “Yes, go take care of Carl’s garden and honor him.”
The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. In that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl’s memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.
One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn’t care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, “My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she’s bringing him home on Saturday.” “Well, congratulations!” said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. “That’s wonderful! What’s the baby’s name?” “Carl,” he replied.