Bill Pekarski with Joe Renko and Robert Smith.Day 109, Living life on my terms.
Last night was just what I needed, a night hanging out with some good friends. We played some cards, ate some golumpki, and spent a night doing something other than the same old thing.
For me, it was so much more than a poker game as the cards didn’t matter. Since we limit it to nickels and dimes, it certainly isn’t about the money either. What it is about is a friendship that has become an extended family, or even a brotherhood. In fact, I feel like these guys are my brothers.
While only lasting a few hours, it still meant the world to me. Like I discussed a few days ago, I was getting a little lonely being kind of stuck at home. Of course there are telephones and the internet, but sometimes you just need to see real people. Realizing what I have been through makes these special moments all the more important.
Paul Heimel, who is currently a county commissioner, has really been a mentor to me since I was eleven years old. It was then that I started to help write sports stories for the Potter Enterprise. Since he was the editor of the newspaper, he got the company to pay me 20 cents an inch for my printed articles. I was never going to get rich doing this, but I gained experience. Additionally, I use to love reading the paper and seeing my name in the byline.
Years later, we worked together for the Rigas family in the Communications Department of Adelphia. Our job there was extremely writing intensive and having the newspaper background was an invaluable asset.
Along the way, Paul and I have had some great experiences and developed a strong bond. For some reason, it just doesn’t seem like a card game if he is not there.
The same thing could be said about Smitty, or Robert Smith if you don’t know who I am talking about. I know he enjoys the company as well as the opportunity to break out of the Freeman House once in a while. You can tell it just makes him happy to be one of the guys, and getting some of my golumpki is just a bonus.
A fourth member or our gang last night was Joe “the Beak” Renko. I could spend all night listening to Joe’s stories about traveling to Pirates games back in the 70’s and some of the stuff he did. I swear, the jokes and pranks he and his friends used to pull are legendary. He has truly led a life of rich experiences and makes for great company for a game like ours.
Finally, we even got Bob Hooftallen to make his way to the game again last night. Bob and I are actually about the same age and we both grew up under very similar conditions. Bob understands that family comes before everything, something that has always been my personal mantra as well.
This is the first year that he will be celebrating Christmas without his mother, something else of which I have a first-hand understanding. After the game, we were hanging out in my kitchen and he mentioned how it is hard for his family to really get into the holiday spirit without her. She was always the person that brought everything and everyone together.
Six years ago, that was me and my family as none of us felt very inspired to get together and celebrate. However, when you stop to think about, our mom would be extremely upset with us if we didn’t get together just because she wasn’t there. Now we have grown to consider our gathering as a testament to her legacy and all of the joy she provided for us over the years.
Once everyone was gone, a different sad thought came to me. There are people out there who don’t have friends and family like I do. There are people who don’t get visitors like I just did to spend time with them. There are people in the nursing homes that don’t get any visitors, other than the staff for a few moments a day.
I guess my point is that maybe we all need to take a look around and reach out to those people once in a while. It doesn’t cost anything but time and it would really brighten someone else’s day. Maybe next time you go to the nursing home to visit your own relatives, why not stop and say hello to their neighbor as well. Maybe take along something small that you can give them, a figurine, a small stuffed animal, or a small trinket of some kind to let them know that people in this world really do care about them.
How about grabbing a shovel, a bag of salt, and going down the road to that person who you know lives alone and doesn’t get many visitors. You could do a bang up job of cleaning their sidewalk for them to make sure they can get in and out of the house safely. Giving a little of ourselves could make all the difference in the world to them.
How about throwing together a plate of those Christmas cookies we all make to take to someone. You could even fill a thermos with some hot chocolate to share, filling their body as well as their hearts with warmth.
Today I am dedicating my progress to my poker gang who got me out of the doldrums last night; Paul, Smitty, Beak, and Hoofy. Finally, I do hope some of you take my advice, you may discover that it does as much for you as it does for someone else.