The March of Time

I had a call the other day, while I was mucking the barn. It was D., who has worked for me in the past. I’d put in a few calls to him, wondering if he might be available as a trucker to help Larry and me move manure, but I hadn’t heard back. Now D. told me he’d been in the hospital — he’d had a health event that resembled a stroke.

I was shocked. D. is the same age as the first class of students I ever taught. He is a kid.

Of course I know that on his birthday he will be 42. But still. In my mind, he’s a bearded child.

Like a teacher, I scolded D. about his health habits (I’ve always done this) while he ignored me (he’s always done that).

“Don’t hold your breath,” he snorted, his usual reply to my suggestions.

D. is the rudest person I’ve ever employed, but his work is impeccable — and when his scowl slips, his smile is sweet. Moreover I’ve always been fond of problem boys, starting with Tommy Moyer, who disrupted my first classes, and Francis and Jamie, who snuck out of bed and climbed down the fire escape after lights out. Over the years I’ve had a rogue’s gallery of favorite naughty characters.

D. could be any of those boys from long ago. It’s hard for me to grasp how time spins by.

He’ll be in my prayers.

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