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All good things

Talking to Mama on the phone just after she’s talked to my sister Sheryl and hearing the smile on her face; this is a good thing. Then talking to my sister and kidding her that Mama loves me more and intuitively recognizing the laughter in her eyes. My eyes laugh, too.

Finally getting an answer at my brother Carlton’s house and hearing about the hunting exploits of our oldest sibling and detecting the wistfulness in his voice. We recollect our own hunting exploits from days gone by, and they are good memories. Then speaking with Archie, the successful archer, and listening to his excitement as he relates the thrill of the hunt.

These are all good things.

Tossing a football with Dustin - in the house - while his mom, I’m sure, suppresses the urge to spank us both for nearly breaking everything there is to break. Over and over again he lunges onto the bed or the couch or the floor, attempting to outdo the last spectacular catch he made. Oh, the tireless energy of youth. It is such a good thing.

Sitting quietly next to Amy until a sudden lapse in self control results in a tickling frenzy that leaves her panting for breath, giggling in that euphoric way that only children can giggle.

Cradling Tyler, my godson, in my arms and walking in whichever direction he chooses, gazing at the wonderment that grows in his eyes with every new thing he sees, touches, smells. This is a good thing; they are all good things, and I need to do them more often.

Sitting at a bar lined with people you know, people you like, people you don’t mind drinking with, buying a round, grateful for a round that someone else bought. The TV’s on, the jukebox is on, the keno machines beep and whistle and ring and a winner buys another round.

Are you there for the buzz? I’m there for the camaraderie. And the buzz. Everything in moderation. That is a good thing.

Neighbors. Being neighborly.

A cup of coffee, a warm fire, rain pitter-pattering on the metal roof, a good book to read.

These are all good things.

Email that comes from overseas and the news of an old friend: his work, his family, the kids, his mom, his brother, and reminiscing about Alaska, an arctic grayling, an unsuspecting grouse and fried potatoes. And remembering the day in December nine years ago when we first went to a printer in Ronan with a hastily thrown-together Volume One Number One. Has it really been nine years? Has it only been nine years?

Reading the paper.

Reading the Bible.

Reading a friend’s first published book.

These are all good things.

Striking up a conversation with a stranger, becoming reacquainted with someone you were once close to; spilling your guts to your closest friend, or sitting quietly, attentively, while your closest friend’s guts are spilled on you.

These are good things.

Reaching out to someone in need, sharing candy with a kid, contributing to Christmas food baskets, contributing to food baskets even when it’s not Christmas.

These, too, are good things.

Celebrating birth, life, death, love, the joys and fears we all bear. Sharing the burdens your neighbors carry, shouldering someone else’s burden for a while, allowing your burdens to be shouldered by someone who offers to take them as their own. Caring for one another, not because  there is some reward to be had but because we are all human, we all have good times and bad times, and it is healthy to look outside yourself and see people for who they really are - who each of us really is - lonely and insecure individuals when any one of us can’t find a shoulder to cry on. Finding a shoulder, being a shoulder.

These are all good things.

Life is full of good things. Sharing mine with you through the words I’ve placed in this column for nine years has been a good thing for me.

Has it been a good thing for you? I hope so.


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Author info

Dennis Nicholls Dennis Nicholls was the founder, publisher, janitor and paperboy of the River Journal from 1993 to 2001. He passed away in 2009.

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