Yesteryears – A Man of the Hour
Yesterday and many yesterdays ago, Clark was a man of the hour. Today, Clark is no longer farming on his farm. He’s in a retirement home and he doesn’t always know his sons. For years, Clark was an auctioneer. He owned four farms and, at different times with all or some of his four sons, he milked cows and raised crops.
Clark was a businessman. Many folks went to him for advice about business and financial management. The only degree he had was life’s experience. He learned well. He managed well. He taught well. He was astute in his observations and just seemed to know what to do.
Clark had this way about him – savvy and kind; observant and unobtrusive. When there was a need, it was nice if Clark was there. More often than not, he was a man of the hour.
There was the day he stopped in to visit my mother about some property she owned. The offer to purchase land and whether or not to sell was a big one for her, and she wanted advice. That is why she called Clark. He came; he listened; he advised.
That day, I discovered how much Clark knew. He knew a lot about finances. He knew a lot about what was happening in the community. He knew people’s trials and their pleasures. He knew who was buying and he knew who was selling. How he knew all that he knew, I’ll never know. Somehow, he got around. Somehow, folks told him things and he didn’t share a lot of what he knew with others. He was like that. For many people, he was a man of the hour.
Stepping Up to the Plate
I remember the day of my stepfather’s funeral. A grandson was traveling to attend this farewell, but he would be arriving late. This grandson was having a hard time dealing with the death of his grandfather. We knew someone should be outside at the church, waiting for him when he arrived. So we asked Clark to look out for the young, devastated man. He did.
Clark stepped right up to the plate. He didn’t know the young man, but that didn’t matter. All he knew was that this was Paul Zook’s grandson and this grandson needed a friend, especially now. The grandson had made some poor choices and had suffered those consequences. No doubt he knew the pain he caused his grandfather and wished he could take it away. There was regret and there was longing for restored relationships. When the grandson finally arrived, Clark offered him a seat near the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee. They sat and sipped coffee together. I don’t know all that happened during that hour or so, or what they talked about. I do know that the conversation, the coffee, and the companionship helped put the grandson back together. He was able to join the family at the graveside. Was it the cup of coffee that settled his nerves? Perhaps. Mostly though, I think it was Clark, a man of the hour.
Today I Still Remember Yesterday
Recently I heard that Clark and Vera, his wife of sixty-eight years, have moved to a rest home because caring for Clark has become too difficult for Vera. Clark remembers that he had four farms and that he was an auctioneer for sixty years. Some days he doesn’t remember his sons.
You know what I remember? I remember him as a man of the hour. I remember that one day, in a moment of need, Clark reached out to someone he didn’t know. Clark became the hands and the feet of Jesus as he sat at the table, drinking coffee with the young man who was grieving the loss of his grandfather.
The financial success and the worth of his farms pale in comparison to what happened that day in the church in my hometown. He was a man like all of us, who had his share of mistakes and regrets. Yet he didn’t allow his past failures to pull him down. On that day, he once again became a man of the hour. What really made this man a success was what he did for a young man who needed comfort and a friend on the day he buried his grandpa.
When I think of Clark, this is what I remember. I grew up in the same church where he raised his sons. I heard him auction countless times at estate sales and the Cattle Sale Barn. I’ve seen his fields and his successful farming operations. Yet, when I think of Clark, it is not his farming or his auctioneering I remember. Instead, my mind goes back to that dreary day we buried someone dear. When someone needed a friend, Clark simply sat down across the table and became that friend.