Wipe away your troubles


Drawn with tension, the little girl’s face appeared from around the corner. Walking slowly while wringing her hands nervously in front of her, it was obvious something was wrong with our favorite little redhead. Drawing closer, her crystal blue eyes filled, brimming with tears about to flow.

The testimony I was about to hear was one I’d heard before — many times a week while growing up back on Flamingo. “I did something wrong. I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry.”

Throwing her arms around my neck, Sweet Caroline started sobbing while saying something. But try as I might to understand, her sob speak was unintelligible. I assured her that no matter what had happened, together we would fix it. We’ll make it all better.

“Really, Papa?”

“Really.” Wiping away her tears and hopefully her troubles, I held her hand as she led me into the playroom where she pointed and explained what had happened. But what she was so distraught about surprised even me.

This being the last story of the year, I’ve decided to change things. I’m no longer going to worry about anything. Those that know me are laughing out loud right now. I’m a worrier, always have been.

Growing up back on Flamingo Street, I worried about when Bully Brad would beat me up next, a test in Old Mrs. Crabtree’s class that I hadn’t studied for (which was just about all of them), or if Dad would finally find out which one of us kids broke his tools. I’m not saying who, but he never found out it was me. At the time, all those things seemed important enough to worry about, but looking back now, they really weren’t.

The things I was so concerned about last year (and if you ask The Wife, there were many) all seemed to work themselves out. And looking back five or ten years, I know I was extremely worried about a lot of stuff, but today I haven’t a clue as to what any of them are. I’m really good about worrying about stuff. Even stuff I don’t have to worry about.

For example, I’ve worried for weeks about what to write for the last column of the year. All that time spent worrying seems silly now, because this story actually walked into the room, by way of Sweet Caroline, just an hour ago and is almost finished.

A much smarter person than I said, “Why worry about things you can change? Just change them. If it’s something you can’t, then why worry? Besides, worrying just robs today of its joy.” That smart person is The Wife. Guess if I listen to her more often, I’d have less time to worry.

So what was our Sweet Caroline so distraught about? While drawing a picture, she accidently dropped a black marker on the new carpet. The carpet is a mixture of light tans, browns … and blacks. Even though she pointed out the spot, I couldn’t see where the marker had fallen. Besides, such an incident is why the Girly Girls only have water-based washable markers. After a big hug and assurance that everything was okay, her stress melted away.

In three weeks, all of my stress and worries will also melt away. We’re going to bring home our two new puppies, Scamp and Black Jack. The two brothers are Aussiedoodles from the same litter. Good emotional support dogs with lots of energy, our two additional family members will make all my worries instantly disappear.

The Wife says that with all the training, feeding, walking three times a day along with nighttime potty trips to the front yard, there won’t be any time left over for me to worry about anything.

Not worrying? Now that’s something to truly worry about if you’re a worrier. Which I’m not anymore …

And for you Dear Reader, I hope the New Year brings you that special someone who can wipe all those worries away — even if they have four legs and not two.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]