The old man looked out his kitchen window watching the heavy snowfall and the young boy who was making his way past his house through the deepening snow. Far into the coldest winter the old man had seen in some time—everyone was feeling its bone chilling effect.
He knew the boy's name was Joey, and that the boy's father had lost his job a while back. The sad fact, the family had fallen on hard times of late.
The boy was walking hunched over as he tried unsuccessfully to ward off the biting cold winter winds—his bare hands were stuffed deep into the pockets of his threadbare coat.
Suffering from a bad cold, the boy stopped and pulled out a wrinkled, wadded up handkerchief from his pocket. After quickly blowing his nose, he rubbed his bare hands together for a moment trying to warm them, before thrusting them back into his coat pockets. Then leaning into the wintry wind, he continued on his way to school through the heavy snowfall.
Watching the plight of the young boy so ill prepared for the winter he was trying to contend with—the old man felt a painful long ago memory grip his heart.
Propelled by a compassion he could not quite explain, later that morning found the old man visiting an upscale Men's Store.
"I want to buy a warm pair of gloves," he told the young lady behind the counter. "Would you mind showing me what you have?"
"Are the gloves for you, Sir, or are they for someone else?" she asked.
"No, they're not for me. They're for a young boy in my neighborhood who lives near me. He looks to be about 10 years old I think," the old man added.
The next morning the old man stopped the boy as he was walking past his house on his way to school.
"Young fellow," the old man said, with a good-natured chuckle, "It's colder than a stepmother's kiss out here this morning, isn't it?"
"Yes Sir," the young boy answered, his teeth chattering from the cold. "It sure is!"
"Well, here," the old man said, holding out the sack which contained the pair of new leather gloves," You look like you could probably use these."
The boy peered into the sack. Upon seeing the new leather gloves, the boy's face lit up with a smile.
"Are you giving these to me?" the boy asked, a bit skeptical. "Do I get to keep them?"
"Sure!" the old man said with a kind smile, "They won't fit me... , too small."
The young boy pulled on his new gloves. The old man watched the boy bring the new gloves up to his nose. The boy inhaled a long breath, savoring the smell of the new leather. He smiled.
The old man happily returned the boy's smile of gratitude. Nothing like living vicariously, he thought, as he remembered another young boy from another time, and another winter now long passed.
The young boy went on his way. The old man made his way through the heavy snow back into the house. He felt a sudden surge of happiness, a sense of well being—maybe even a little vindication.
As he was passing by the next morning, the young boy looked up. He saw the old man sitting at his window. The boy, fully decked out in his new gloves, smiled and waved.
Going over and taking a juice drink from his big white refrigerator, the old man went over to the utensil drawer. Reaching in, he pulled out a crude Bottle Opener. It was obvious the Opener had been hand made—and although there were no frills, no fancy design—it still got the job done.
Then the old man did a strange thing. He brought the Opener up to his mouth. Pressing the cold metal against his lips, he kissed it, and then with a heartfelt whisper he said in a voice suddenly husky with emotion.
"Thank You, Dad."
Seated again at his kitchen table, memories came flooding back. The old man lost in reverie, rode Memory's Tide. His mind continued to drift down through the years that had passed much too quickly. Filled with emotion, his memory finally journeyed back in time to a long ago wintry day, and a distant cornfield.
The frozen field had been completely stripped bare, having been harvested by one of the newfangled Cornpickers that had somehow missed a lot of the corn it was supposed to have harvested.
On that morning so long ago, leaving the glowing warmth of the old stove that sat in the middle of the living room glowing red, was the last thing the young boy wanted to do on that bitter cold wintry day.
However, even at his young age, the boy knew times were hard. So a short time later that morning, with his father, the two of them had made their way out into that howling winter wind into the wide-open frozen cornfield.