Al Batt: When turning a year younger is the best gift

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting:

My wife spent all day pointing out spots on the walls and ceilings.

Sounds like you need to paint.

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No, she needs to clean her eyeglasses.

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors — both named Bruce — who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: If someone is in front of me, they are driving too slow. If someone is behind me, they are going too fast.

The cafe chronicles

We sat in relaxed-fit chairs. We talked of nothing. We talked of everything. We visited as if we had all the time in the world. We’d each been in more stews than a restaurant oyster. The carnivore’s special came with a complimentary Heimlich maneuver.

The weatherman had done his snow and tell. It was well below zero and the wind howled. My car’s dashboard had warned me that the road might be icy. My car is a worrier.

It was one man’s birthday. I asked him how old he was. He’d thought he was turning 92, but after doing the math, he figured out that he was only 91. He said that turning a year younger was a good birthday gift.

A church closes

On New Year’s Day, I like to get a good deal on a Christmas tree and take time to reflect. I review my Christmas bucket list and try to figure out what went wrong. I ask for forgiveness for any harm I may have caused during the past year.

I don’t resolve to eliminate anything from my life. I resolve to add things that would make me a better version of myself — like the honor I had in speaking at the final service of Freeborn Congregational United Church of Christ, which closed after 141 years of faithful service. For some parishioners, this church was the most enduring relationship of their lives. Rev. Cherie Daniel of Freeborn told me that a late church member, Agnes Hedensten of Freeborn knew where all her family members were at all times. Agnes knew where she’d been, where she was going and what time she needed to be there. Cherie asked her if she knew what heaven would be like. Agnes replied, “It will be a surprise.”

Her words reminded me of Henry Ward Beecher’s last words, “Now comes the mystery.”

Cherie had taught me that I should never try counting a snapping turtle’s teeth with my fingers. Cherie demonstrated so I wouldn’t have to learn by experience and got a visit to the emergency room for her efforts. Cherie mentioned a young member of her family on her first trip to Cedar Rapids, who said, “I don’t see any rabbits.”

There is a shortage of cedar rabbits there. That’s a mystery. So is a church closing.

A confabulation

I stopped to see an old friend. She lives in an Alzheimer’s facility. Although dementia has changed her in many ways, her demeanor remains kind and caring. I enjoyed visiting with her. She asked me if I would stop and talk to her husband. She added that he’d been asking about me. I said that I would. And I did. It was a frigid and blustery day, but I knew right where he was buried.

Customer comments

Neal Batt of Hartland is a fan of Allis-Chalmers tractors. How big a fan? His wife, Darla, told me he’d even painted their garden hose cart orange.

Virginia Anderson of Rochester told a story about Ingeborg Rugroden of New Richland. Ingeborg was a tireless worker at Trinity Lutheran Church in New Richland. She spent countless hours doing the dishes in the church kitchen. She told all who would listen that when she died, she didn’t want paper plates or plastic silverware at her funeral. She had spent so much time washing and drying the church’s dishes and silverware, that she wanted one time when she wouldn’t have to wash them. She got her wish.

Lynn Osswald of Northbridge, Massachusetts, said that her husband John was given two neckties by his mother. He wore one the next time she visited. His mother saw the tie and asked, “Didn’t you like the other one?”

Ken Bertelson of Albert Lea said Lena got nine out of 10 on her drivers test. The 10th one jumped out of the way.

Nature notes

Birds find feeders by sight. They either see the feeder, the food or other birds feeding.

Meeting adjourned

According to researchers at the University of California-Berkeley, a grateful attitude boosts immunity, lowers blood pressure, decreases loneliness, fosters generosity, stimulates compassion and improves emotional well-being.