When I was in the second grade, a neighbor man from across the street was killed in an automobile accident. The intoxicated driver of the other car was uninjured. The man that was killed was a really nice man. He always had time for the neighborhood kids, and there was a lot of them, and would regale us with stories of his experience in World War II. He was lucky he was let out of the Army shortly after the end of the war and before Korea heated up. Many of the men in our neighborhood had not been so lucky.
At eight years old, one’s understands of words and concepts quite differently than an adult. At eight we kind of knew that when someone died, it meant that we would not see them or talk to them again and that we were sad. I don’t think we really understood death. Drunken driving was a concept that we had no real grasp of, but we knew it was bad and anyone that did it was bad. Someone did it and that’s why our neighbor, Dutch, was dead.
One day I told my grandpa about Dutch being killed by a bad man, a drunken driver. He shocked me by asking me how I knew he was a bad man. I replied, “Because he was a drunken driver and he killed Dutch.” Grandpa asked me if I had considered the possibility that he was a good man that had made a mistake. Of course I had not. At eight years old there are not a lot of shades of gray, just black and white. Grandpa also asked if I had considered that Dutch was a bad man that did good things. At that point I was totally lost. My mind had not yet developed to the point that I could comprehend such contradictory concepts.
Grandpa pulled out a silver dollar and told me which side was heads and which was tails. He handed it to me and asked me to give him just the heads. I looked at the coin and then at him and must have had the look of a deer caught in the headlights because I had no idea what he was talking about. There was no way I could give him just the heads. I tried to give him the whole coin with heads facing up. He said he did not want the whole thing, just the heads. I was so lost I may as well have been on Mars. He saw that and gave me a break and said “OK, just give me the tails.” This too was impossible and I finally told him there was no way to split the coin the way he wanted. He just said “yup.”
Then he explained to me that most all people are like coins, they have a head side and a tail side, a good and a bad side. You cannot split them apart. Sometimes a good man will do bad things and sometimes a bad man will do good things. He explained we find the same thing in all of life and nature. For example, sometimes the rain is good, it waters our garden and makes the grass grow nice and green, but sometimes it is bad, it causes floods and people lose their homes and even die. He told me to always look at things, especially people, as I would a coin, two completely different sides, but still just one coin.
It may have been many years before I completely understood his lesson, but eventually I really got it and today I never look at people, or nature, as only one side of a coin. At this time in my family’s lives, we have had a tendency to look at only the bad side of the coin, we have lost two of the people we love most in this world and we are sad. But when we turn the coin over we see, and share, the joy of seeing two other people we love beginning a life together. We get to see that in all things, there is a coin to turn over and over in our hands and to understand that in life we always get the whole coin. All I can say to that is “Ain’t God Grand.”
See ya’all next time, till then Peace and Love to all