Of friendly pushes … counting blessings … and another try with a tree

The elderly lady looked in pain as she leaned over her walker and waited in the restaurant’s parking lot.

“You OK?” I asked.

“Not really,” she answered. “I’ve had an operation and it’s going to be hard for me to get into my friend’s car.”

I could see why. Her friend was driving one of those massive Yukons that looked like it could hold about 23 clowns. And it had a big step up to the passenger seat. So I stuck around.

“Can I help?” I asked.

“If you want to push me up there into the seat, I would appreciate it,” she said.

Better said than done. I maneuvered around her, looking for the proper way to lift her. I was a little flummoxed. Finally, I had to say, “Is it OK if I put my hands under your butt and shove?”

She said that would be fine. So I lifted her up that way and got her high enough that she plopped into the seat.

“Thanks. That was good,” she said.

“That was good for me, too,” I replied before I realized how that sounded.

She smiled, thank God. My wife, watching all this, shook her head. And me? I felt pretty confident that I had insured that my good deed would go unrewarded.


The above episode happened on my birthday a few days ago. Earlier that day, I had played nine holes of golf … ridden my bike 20 miles … saw the movie, “Top Gun: Maverick” (very cheesy but very enjoyable) … and went out to dinner at the Crooked Ewe with my wife, daughter and son-in-law.

I couldn’t have had a better birthday. (And, thankfully,  I didn’t end it by throwing out my back lifting the lady into the Yukon.)

I also got a couple of cool t-shirts as presents. One has a bicycle on its front and the other has a baseball. I love them both. I’ll wear them until the inevitable armpit holes start getting bigger than a quarter.

But I had already received what I considered pretty neat presents during the previous few days. My oldest grandchild, 18-year-old Maddy, graduated from Penn High School magna cum laude on Monday. She will be going to Purdue this fall and plans to major in genetics.

And Maddy’s kid sister, Ellie, competed in the IHSAA state track and field championships in the 3,200-meter run. Ellie, a 16-year-old junior-to-be at Penn, had a life-threatening tumor removed from her brain when she was 5 years old. I’d say that’s a pretty good comeback.

That t-shirt with the baseball? It also has “Life is Good,” written on it.  As I start off my 74th year on this earth, you can see why I totally agree.


A few of us planted a crabapple tree in our friend Mary Prince’s backyard this morning. It was in honor of Mary’s late husband, Steve, my longtime buddy.

Steve died two winters ago of Covid just a few weeks before the first round of shots was made available. He is now one of more than a million victims in our country.

I miss him.

Last year, eight of us planted a red bud tree in his honor. But we probably had too many people with everybody and nobody in charge. We put in too much peat moss, planted it a little crooked, picked a bad spot and buried its root ball a little too deep.

It eventually started sinking into the clay-dominated soil. Weeks later, some of us even dug it up and started over. But alas, the poor tree didn’t make it.

I could almost hear Steve up in heaven yelling, “You work at a garden center part-time for criminy sakes, Moor. What the heck were you doing?”

I hope he was laughing, too.

This time around, just three of us (Timm, Kirby and myself) planted the smaller, more manageable crabapple. My wife, the master gardener, oversaw the project and barked out orders.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I only wish those fingers included green thumbs.

Contact Bill at [email protected]