The Walking Cane
By Bill Shepard
There is a saying that I’ve heard nearly all of my years_ “if you keep something long enough, there will be a time that you will need it.”
The funeral service was over, the crowd had dispersed, and only a few lingered at the graveside. “Pop,” everyone called him that, had been a good man and a faithful Christian for all the years I had known him, and much longer than that. He had been a devout member of the little church that I was pastoring at the time. Now Pop was gone.
I turned to his widow and spoke. I had already spoken all the words that I knew to say about Pop and how I would miss him. Yes, I would miss the little old man, but I had memories enough to last more than my lifetime. When I would visit his home, Pop and I would often sit outside in a swing and talk. He liked to talk about fishing and other things he had done when he was a much younger man. Pop’s hearing was bad; he wore a hearing aid in each ear. On Sunday afternoons, there were always a number of his families that would drop in at his house for Sunday dinner. Sometimes, I too would be there, but only when invited. One Sunday I was there, the meal was over and Pop and I went outside and sat in the swing. It was a warm day, just right for sitting outside and telling stories.
There was never a shortage of grandchildren, even great-grandchildren present at Pop’s house. They were present on this day and their loud noise at play actually became annoying to me. It didn’t seem to bother Pop as much. I turned to Pop and spoke, “Pop, how do you put up with all of the squealing, laughter and playful noise?” Pop looked at me with a little smile on his face, reached up and took the hearing aids from his ear. Without saying a word, he answered my question.
Pop was gone now. I spoke to his widow. “Give me something to remember Pop by” I said. Without saying a word, she handed me Pop’s old walking cane. I didn’t need anything to remember Pop by and I certainly didn’t need a walking cane! I graciously accepted the gift and when I returned to my home, I hung the stick on a nail in the garage.
Pop was 95 years old when he died and I was not half that age. I certainly had no use for a walking cane and couldn’t imagine myself ever needing one! Time has a way of changing things!
I moved a time or two in the years that followed and I always took Pop’s old walking cane with me. That was about the only time I would see it.
Yes, time changes things. It had been more than a half century later when I took the old walking cane from its position in the garage and put it to use. I had reached the age that Pop was when he died; I was in need of a walking cane.
Oh, I have one of those fancy ones that you see advertised on TV, but I very seldom use it. I prefer Pop’s old cane and I use it everywhere I go. There is no way of knowing just how old it is, but I would guess it’s nearly a hundred years old. I have gone on and left it in a number of different places, but so far, I’ve been able to go back and find it. I don’t know how much longer I will need it, nor what will become of it when I need it no more. One thing I know-if walking canes could talk, this one has a lot of stories it could tell. Perhaps, some would be more interesting than this one, but it has been good remembering the little old man and the times we spent together. As for the walking cane, I’ll just pass it on, when I am finished with it.
Mr. Shepard is a native of Darlington, S.C., and a current resident of Piedmont, S.C. He is the author of “Mill Town Boy” and “Bruised”. He has been sharing his tales of growing up in Darlington for decades, and we are delighted to share them each week. His mailing address for cards and letters is: Bill Shepard 324 Sunny Lane, Piedmont, S.C., 29673.