Still Here

“Okay.  1020 Jasper Street in Palmyra, New York.  Is that right?”

“No!  Elmira, New York.  Elmira!”

I am, once again, struggling.   Even on my best days, I find communications confusing.  Frustrating, even.  

Today is no different.  

It seems that the older I get, the more difficult it is to distinguish between differing dialects.  Bad phone lines don’t help.

My new friend on the telephone, a customer in the East who needs a product my company is offering for sale, has labored to make this Southern boy understand at several points along the way.  

I fear I have finally crossed the line and offended her.

“I’m so sorry.  I just keep making mistakes.”

phone-2319_640At times like this, I feel like a failure as a businessman.

Her response is instant.  Gently, she says, “I’m still here on the line.  It’s not too late to get it right.”

A few moments later, after some laughter and a little more stumbling, we say goodbye.  I hang up the telephone and sit in silence.  Her words ring in my head.

It’s not too late. . .

I wonder.

I snapped at a friend yesterday.  In attempting to fulfill a task I had volunteered for, he had the misfortune to be the last in a line of folks who had played the too-busy-card.

“Everyone’s busy.  I’m busy.  She’s busy.”  I jerked my chin to nod in the general direction of the Lovely Lady standing nearby.  “We’re doing it anyway.  What’s busy got to do with it?”

I’m a failure as a friend.

I would like to not feel the way I do today about that conversation.

Is it too late to fix that?

My beautiful granddaughter sat on my lap during the early service at church recently.  As the sermon began, she found she needed something solid under her bulletin to be able to write the answers to the questions.  You can’t write lightly with a crayon, you know.

A quick glance down the row in front of us made it plain the hymnals were all in use.  The nearest one was in front of her daddy, four or five chairs away.

Knowing a whisper wouldn’t suffice, she made sure there was some volume to her call down the row.  “Daddy!  Daddy! Da….”

I clapped my hand over her mouth and, leaning down near her ear, whispered sharply, “What’s wrong with you?  You know we don’t do that in church!”

Instantly—instantly—I was sorry.  The hurt in her eyes as they looked up into my face spoke louder than any response she could have shouted at me.

The hurt in my heart matches the hurt in her eyes.

I’m a failure as a grandpa.

Is it too late to fix that?

There is so much more to say.  I’m just not sure I’m the one who should say the words.

I shipped the order; I apologized to my friend; I even held the little girl close and made sure she knew I wasn’t upset.

There is more to do.  I am sure I’m the one who should take action.

I am grateful for a Savior who gives second chances.  I am grateful for people around me who are willing to do the same.

I am grateful for the opportunity to do better next time.  And the time after that.

It’s not too late.

The line is still open.

Life and hope.  They walk hand in hand.

We’re still breathing.




The more ugly, older, more cantankerous, more ill and poorer I become, the more I try to make amends by making my colors more vibrant, more balanced, and beaming.
(Vincent van Gogh ~ Dutch artist ~ 1853-1890)



Love does no wrong to a neighbor. . .
(Romans 13:10a ~ ESV)



© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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