George E. Winslow
I’ve known George for a long time. I used to visit him when I was much younger. His place is rather secluded and private – his place was good place to take my girlfriends when I was in high school and college. A good place to hide away and be alone – if you get my drift.
George never complained no matter how many times I used his place for… you know. But I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about me. I had other things on my mind besides girls. George had a nice place. Right behind his place was the King’s Trail. That’s actually not the real name of it, it’s just a trail. The hills are steep and the terrain rugged and the scenery is majestic. When my kids were younger I used to go hiking with them there – right next to George.
My sons, both of them, loved to hike and were always excited whenever I asked them if they’d like to hike the King’s Trail at George Winslow’s place.
I can hear the wheels turning. So before you go making assumptions, my two sons have nothing to do with the girls I used to take to or meet at George Winslow’s place.
Well, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans (thanks, John!). I got busy with life and decades past before I would get to go back to George Winslow’s place.
My kids are grown and I have grand kids and I’m just an old curmudgeon hanging on to what is left of me for as long as I can hang on. Sometimes I think I’m falling apart, hair falling out, squinting at the fine print on credit card receipts trying to figure out where to put the tip on the darn thing, hobbling around on bad knees – if you’re old like me, then you know what I mean. If you’re young, don’t laugh, your day is coming. And sooner than you think. I laugh at you; you laugh at me.
Anyway, decades came and went. Life is like a baseball pitcher – throwing curves and change-up while I was looking for the fastball. Time passed and I forgot about George until just a few months ago, when I decided to go out to his place and take a look around.
I parked my care in my old parking place right next to George’s place – which looked exactly as it has the last time I visited twenty-five years ago. Behind George’s place was the trail that my kids and I named “King’s Trail”. As sometimes happens, having an unnamed anything is like a void that has to be filled. And someone named it “The Alan Jenkins Trail”, in honor of Alan Jenkins I guess. I wonder who he was. I’m imagining him a railroad engineer coursing through the darkness of night traversing sleeping towns. But that may be a bit romantic. I think Alan Jenkins use to be a school superintendent around these parts, a while back.
What a slap in the fact to George! They could have at least named it “The George E. Winslow Trail” — after all, it is right behind his place.
In front of George’s place there is old wooden bench where I used to sit with my girlfriends – and later with my sons. The bench was weathered and worn when I sat there with them – but it’s just a little bit more worn and weathered now. Too bad I am not more like that bench. I’m A LOT more worn and weathered than I was then. What a shame.
I sat down on the bench and my mind, the ultimate time machine, took me back to another time and place, when I wore a much younger face, and idealism instead of cynicism was in my heart. Just for a moment I was sitting there with girlfriends, autumn leaves fluttering down upon us, on a bright and cool October day. And a moment later I was sitting there with my sons, laughing and doing what good dad’s and their children do – reveling in our time together – savoring every moment – and sadly knowing that those time would never last.
Children grow up to become parents, and parents grow old and become grandparents and then, if they are lucky, they die before their children and grandparents. And the circle of life goes around and around.
I walk over to George’s tombstone – it looks just like it has looked since the first time I saw it – weathered and worn, but the writing on it still legible:
George E. Winslow
Beloved Husband and Father
Born April 10, 1827
Died May 14, 1898
Age 71 Years
The wind rustles the leaves on the trees and i gaze upon the sea of tombstones on the hills beyond and I realize that life is very short. There is no time to waste. The dead live longer than the living.
Rest in peace, George.
I’ll see you tomorrow.