A little while ago I had occasion to call at a local funeral home. Now the proprietors are neighbors, friends, people I have known since they were children, yet a visit to their establishment is almost always connected with a loss of a friend or acquaintance. In this instance, the decedent was an acquaintance of many years and a man for whom I had great respect.
For eight years he had been a member of the school board, and thus in a manner of speaking, my employer. Later, his daughter was a teacher on my staff. It was for her primarily that I made the call, for Don was no longer with us. I'm sure it didn't matter to him one way or the other.
Following a wait in line for over an hour, I was privileged to visit with Don's family members for a few moments. Then I went into a parlor where many people were gathered. Here it was that a young man of, say forty-something, approached me.
" Mr. L! Hi, do you remember me?" (Always the first question the guys ask thirty years after our last encounter.)
"Of course," I said. "How are you, Justin?" (This part was easy, since I had just visited with his sister a few minutes earlier. She had pointed him out across the room.)
"Remember how you tried to get me to give up chaw?" Justin asked.
"I'll never forget it," I replied. Justin was a student in my school for six years, kindergarten through grade five. The chewing tobacco issue came up in his second grade year. It never went away. "Hope you've dropped that foolishness."
"Nah. Still chew." Said, apparently with a great deal of pride, as though his standing there before me in apparent good health somehow proved he was right. And coincidentally, that I was wrong.
"Sorry to hear it. But it is good to see you again." We chatted a few minutes about his doings, and I headed home.
Quite possibly a lot of our efforts, well-intentioned as they may be, go for naught.