Sunday, October 16, 2011

Don't Toss The Tube 'Til It's All Gone

(From Sunday's Times and News-Star)

My friend of 35-plus years eulogized his dad Monday with an eloquence impressive but surprising, considering the circumstances. I was proud of him.

Years ago his pastor father gave the address at our high school graduation, encouraging us to be wise, as young David was, with the stones we’d choose to slay the giants we’d face. Saturday morning Rev. Davis brought the mail inside, sat in his chair, then died suddenly of a heart attack, his Bible open in his study, his notes ready with Sunday’s sermon.

“He worshipped in heaven this Sunday morning,” the funeral program read.

My buddy Clint told a lot of stories about his dad in the filled-to-the-brim church – they even had to sit people in the choir loft. Most of the stories I knew already. A personal favorite is the one when the pickup screeched to a stop on Interstate 20; Clint and his younger sisters had figured out they could alter the steering of the truck by rolling from side to side on the foam mattress in the truck bed. There was hell to pay.

His dad got out, cracked the door on the camper top, pulled Clint out and tore him up on the side of the road while truckers honked their approval. Then he pitched a subdued Clint back into the bed, got back in the cab, continued the mission.

Clint’s daddy was old school.

One story about this imperfect but godly man I did not know. Glad I do now.

Bro. Davis would roll the toothpaste tube very carefully, day by day, all the way to the opening. Not surprising, especially for a man whose first job brought him $2,200 annually as a junior high coach and teacher in Webster Parish.

When the tube was completely rolled, he would unroll it and rake is thumb down the tube to get one more squirt. THEN, to get the absolute last bit of toothpaste, he’d suck the end, and brush furiously. Only then would he throw the completely spent tube away.

Here’s a guy you’d trust with the inventory.

Clint said that even through that modest hygienic illustration, he learned a lesson from his dad. The days of our lives aren’t much different than tubes of toothpaste. Each day, we get a new tube.

And each day, we roll the tube toward the top as little by little we squeeze out a piece of the day. Hopefully, what we squeeze out will make us and others a bit cleaner.

Then we head home from work and the tube seems done, all the way to the top. But that’s when your spouse and children need you, and nothing is more important than that, so you roll the tube back out and slide your thumb down its middle and get another little bit of love to share. Then it’s late and there’s that tiny bit left, that bit you can suck out. And maybe you need to, because maybe that’s when you need to say to someone, “I was really a jerk today. I love you. I hope you’ll forgive me.”

Each day, we get just enough in the tube to handle the day’s challenges and needs. Tomorrow, a new tube. Bro. Davis didn’t waste much toothpaste or time. One of the many legacies he left was his willingness to be used up in service, his willingness, as they say in sports, to leave it all on the field.