One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I love to hear the stories of others. As a kid I worked with a lot of grown folks and they always had the best stories to tell. I would sit there and listen to them with that bright eyed look. My love of a good life’s tale continue. When I hear the beginnings of a good tale I will stop whatever I am doing, perk up my little ears and listen with great attention.
Sometimes a good life story comes through the radio. Last month I had such a moment, I was sitting listening to the radio when they DJ said that Pinetop Perkin had passed away, he was a spirited 97 year old blues musician. The man on the radio told a story of how at 91 Pinetop Perkin was involved in train wreck, he was in the car. It seems unimaginable that he survived, being that most train vs. car accidents do not bode well for the car. But not only did he survive, but he was not seriously hurt, just a few scratches. It made me more curious about this man. So I went to Wikipedia, as one normally does when snooping, and found his story to be an interesting one. For a long time he was more of a sideman and did not have his own album till he was 75. At the time of his passing he had 20 engagements lined up.
Even more curious I ferreted for more stories. I came across this one in the Huffington Post. He was also known for his kindness and embracing smile. The author of the article, Cat Bennett, told the following story:
Once, when we were in Cannes, France, Pinetop went to an outdoor bar around the corner from our hotel and ordered a drink. It was a hot, sunny, summer afternoon and he sat on the enclosed patio under an umbrella. The band was playing on a small island off the coast so had to board a ferry around dinner time to get there. Everyone met outside the hotel to walk down to the pier but there was no Pinetop. Someone checked his room to find it empty. When Jer and I walked around the corner to see if he might be wandering about, we spotted him at his table on the patio.
“Pine!” we called over. “It’s time to go!”
He smiled, got up and ambled over like he had all the time in the world. “I forgot my wallet,” he said. “I left it up in the room.”
We quickly paid his bill. He’d had several drinks by then. When he realized he’d forgotten his wallet, he’d simply settled in. He couldn’t speak French and knew he couldn’t explain the situation. Neither did he try. It could have meant trouble had he walked out of there so he sat in the hot sun all afternoon. He made the best of his dilemma — ordering a few drinks, a little food, watching the world go by.
“Were you worried, Pine?” I said.
He wasn’t. He just laughed. Something was bound to happen, he said. Someone or something would set him free. Then he laughed again. There was such grace in his acceptance of life in all its permutations, sweet laughter even in the face of discomfort, and gratitude for the gifts that came his way.
The story made me happy to know there was a gentle person like that out there, appreciative to be able to hear this story and sad to know that I would never get a chance to meet him.
Does anyone else enjoy collecting stories?