Nothing but Junk
By William H. White, Jr.
Sometimes in the course of conversation we hear something that stays with us. Just one little bit of wisdom that hangs in front of our minds. Something of rare substance and value that we can learn from and better ourselves. When these jewels are cast before us we can either ignore them or learn from them. Such a pearl was cast before me today.
While I was out driving back from a job I took a wrong turn and wound up in front of an old mans house that I had done some work for a couple of years ago. He was old then. In fact he had told me that if I waited till he died his sons would probably have more work for me. So, when I got to the house today I noted the cleaned front porch and front yard, and I assumed that he had passed away. I decided to go and leave a business card on the front door just to see if I got a call back from it. I was shocked to hear the old man tell me to come in when I got to the door.
We sat and talked for about two hours. You see I love elderly people. They have seen so much and have so much wisdom to share if we will only listen. He told me all about being in World War II and landing on the beaches in France while under enemy fire. We talked about his Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He spoke about the evils of alcohol – how that on leave the other soldiers got drunk, and since he didn’t he was responsible to get them back to base. He talked about going from a buck sergeant to company commander because all the higher ranked soldiers were killed in action. Then he began to talk about his wife. She had died many years before. He talked about what a wonderful woman she was and how she kept him straight. Tears formed in his eyes as he talked. I could tell that he loved her and missed her dearly.
Since he is 92 years old I paid careful attention to every word he said. I hung on his words as he expounded her virtues to me, and how to make a marriage last. Then he said that something that hit me like a lightning bolt. He paused in his discourse and looked around his house and said, “Without a woman a man ain’t nothing. Without a woman house ain’t nothing but a pile of junk.” I have heard many men talk about the virtues of having a woman present, but never had I heard it put so poignantly.
I have written essays on the joys of knowing a truly beautiful woman and on the sorrows of living a life alone, but never in my ramblings have I come close to being as on the mark as he was. He sat there a man who had seen the world in its worst time, came home to America to see this country at it best time, seen, and don’t things that I can only imagine. And yet, in the final analysis the greatest thing he had experienced was the love of a beautiful woman. Since I live alone it was particularly succinct.
I thought of all the things I had accumulated. My truck, tools, furniture, electronics, and books. And yet I agreed with him that it was all nothing with no one to share it with. An empty house, an empty bed, an empty heart. All nothing, worthless, and fleeting without love to make it a home.
“Without a woman a man ain’t nothing. Without a woman house ain’t nothing but a pile of junk.”