Life Lesson #5


Each time we have our two granddaughters, Little One and Sweet Caroline, I enjoy ending their day with a bedtime story.

They’re always asking me to tell more adventures about my three brothers, The Sister and those kids with funny nicknames from my childhood. And they especially love hearing about that bully who was my nemesis for seven years, Down the Street Bully Brad.

But last night their bedtime story wasn’t about that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo, nor any kids who grew up there. Last night was Life Lesson #5, a story that had literally crawled right in front of me the day before.

The day started off like most days for Yours Truly — working on our house renovations. Due to supply chain shortages and limited time left after taking care of our granddaughters, we are now in the ninth month of a renovation that should’ve taken only two. I’ve learned three things during all that time.

First, doing it yourself takes much longer than just writing a check for others to do the work. Second, all those “how to do it” videos on YouTube make home improvement look much easier than it is. And third, The Wife is more patient than I ever thought possible.

So, when she asked if I could make a couple of floating shelves for the kitchen, I said, “Sure, it’ll be easy.” With a kiss on the cheek for a thank you, she went to work, and I went to the computer and searched how to build floating shelves on YouTube.

After two hours of watching videos, I was confident in my abilities, so I drove an hour south to a woodyard specializing in, well, wood. It was on the way back home that Life Lesson #5 crossed my path.

Scanning the road, I spotted a large rock about fifty yards ahead. As I got closer, the rock got bigger so I slowed down thinking, “This could be dangerous, need to stop and push this rock out of the roadway.” It was and it wasn’t.

When I stopped and got out, the “rock” in the middle of the road turned out to be the largest turtle I’d ever seen. With a head as large as my fist and a shell much bigger than a dinner plate, the monster turtle wasn’t in any hurry to cross the road. Not wanting Yertle the Turtle to be squished flatter than a pancake, I decided to help him along with his morning walk.

Important Note to Reader: a giant mud turtle will be delighted as you make a video picking him up and helping him across the road. A giant snapping turtle will not. Pick up a snaping turtle and he’ll try to snap your fingers off, then as you scream and drop him, he’ll try to snap your leg off also. Friendly, they are not.

As their bedtime story, I showed the Girly Girls the video I’d made. When it ended, I asked them what they thought. They said, “That was a huge turtle!” and “He was trying to snap your fingers off!” and “You were just trying to help.” and “That wasn’t nice.”

After tucking the Girly Girls into bed, I replied, “No, he wasn’t nice. But sometimes when you try to help someone who is in need, they won’t understand. Sometimes they’ll turn around and snap at you. Even so, it doesn’t diminish your good deed of helping, and you should always help people that are in need. This is Life Lesson #5.”

Placing all their favorite stuffies “just so,” I turned to walk away. Their question reached out through the darkness, grabbing me before I could get to the doorway, “Papa, what about life lessons one, two, three and four?”

Switching on their nightlights, I smiled and replied, “There are actually six life lessons, but those are stories for another night.”

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]