Perhaps to some, it is an unlikely friendship but to me it is one I treasure. Nothing pleases me more than the moments of conversation I spent with One Arm, who lives up the road a bit.
Normally, we stop to talk while I’m running in the mornings but he, I or Tink never pass each other’s houses without a tap of the horn and throwing up our hand. If One Arm is out in the yard when we drive by, he’ll stop, grin ear-to-ear and throw up the only arm he has. That’s why he’s called One Arm. His real name is Randall.
“But ain’t nobody calls me that. Everybody’s called me One Arm. All my life. I’m just ol’ One Arm to everybody. That’s just the way it is.”
The other morning, One Arm saw me running up the road, in a very slow jog because I’ve been nursing a little injury, and he came hurrying across the yard, flagging me down to stop.
“I just gotta tell ya – I got me a new grandbaby. Ten and a half pounds, 21 and a half inches long. Yessiree. My daughter ain’t but ‘bout that big.” He held his hand to show about 5 feet. “Her name’s Maggie. Purtiest thing you ever seen. Takes after her mama. Shore do. I’m just tickled to death.”
We got to talking about the details and I asked, “Now, is that the daughter that got saved a couple of years ago?”
He lit up, grinned big enough to reveal a missing tooth or so. “Shore is. Yep. She’s been washed in the blood.”
Then, One Arm commence to tell all about the difficulty of the delivery and a challenge the baby had faced at first. “They sent my daughter home but had to keep the baby and she throwed a fit. Now, I’m tellin’ it was awful. She didn’t want to leave that baby. I thought I’s gonna have to call the law up there on my own daughter to get her settled down. I sure did.”
When One Arm gets revved up, he talks without slowing down. “Then, you ain’t gonna believe this but my daughter got sick and wound up back in the hospital for a week and a half. Nearly worried me to death. But I just turned it all over to the good Lord and left it with Him. He seed me through. I knowed he would.”
One Arm just brings all kinds of warmth to my heart. He never asks the good Lord for more than he needs. I said, “I love you, One Arm.”
He reared back. “Well, I think the world of you, too. Yes sir, I do.”
There are many things I like about One Arm. I admire his work ethic. Despite the fact that he has a physical challenge, he cannot be outworked. Many times when we pass his house, he is cutting grass, picking up sticks, washing his car or looking after his little dogs. He used to work at the grocery store around the corner where he cheerfully bagged groceries then asked, “Want me to tote ‘em to the car for you?”
If I said, “No, I’m fine,” he’d reply, “Aw, c’mon. You ain’t got no need for totin’ this stuff. It’s heavy. I’ll get it for ya.”
Life is simple for One Arm and his family. There are no great luxuries. Clothes, cars and furniture are kept until it’s slapped worn out and then beyond. On that morning we talked, he wore an old navy jacket ripped in several places from use, not trend. Yet, he is happy. Content. Glad for an opportunity to work and do right.
And whenever he needs a little help, he just works a bit harder and prays a little louder.
He’s a great American. I wish there were lots more like him.
[Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of the new book, “Mark My Words: A Memoir of Mama.” Visit www.rondarich.com to sign for her free weekly newsletter.]