I know better than to judge a person by his name, but if it’s possible, I knew Stu was going to be a character even before I heard him speak. Recommended to do a home renovation for us, when he answered my call, he chuckled at “Hello.”
This guy was not going to be a quick call, or a quick anything for that matter.
Stu didn’t disappoint. I heard his truck before I heard his knock, and he was dispensing advice about how to take care of those blasted wood-boring bees on my front stoop before he made it through my front door. With all manner of jollity, of course.
Neither of us knew it then, but less than an hour later we’d be coming to Jesus on that spot.
I’m a natural born talker. The way nature abhors vacuums, my atmosphere abhors silence when I’m with someone who isn’t aching for quiet. Most of the time I’m sensitive to that need (or I pray for forgiveness when I’m not).
I’m awful at ending conversations in person or on the phone, even when I desperately want to. It’s not that I don’t try – I really try – but because people know (or sense) I’m a talker, they don’t believe me or get my less-than-subtle hints when I say things like “Okay, I’ll let you go” or “That sounds great!” or any number of ways to express I Am Done!
When a talker meets a talker, you might as well grab a chair and set a spell. This explains – and I swear this is gospel – that when I started Whole 30 I became best friends with my nearby Publix manager when he walked me around the store FOR AN HOUR explaining all the things I should eat for the month (after he noticed me studying the tea and he had All the Recommendations). You aren’t dieting, he told me (as if I didn’t know), This is lifestyle change.
When I recount such things to my husband, he reminds me That’s just who you are.
So when I made an appointment with Stu to request an estimate on tiling our shower, I should’ve known there might be some conversation.
Only thing is, I wasn’t the one doing the talking.
Stu arrived on a day where I had no margin. Deadlines loomed and my to-do list trailed without end. It was necessary to manage my time well.
Stu didn’t notice.
He showed up after work, and he looked every part of seasoned craftsman. Well-worn jeans. Strong hands. Hair the color of wisdom. His ruddy complexion told me he liked the outdoors well before he told me about his Harley.
He explained how he’d handle the work. He tried to show me, too, telling me about a bathroom he had done – “I know you’re going to like it!” – but he hadn’t quite figured out his smart phone, and he had hundreds of pictures to scroll. I left him to find the pictures and take a few measurements while I escaped to tend to another thing or two on my list.
He found me in my kitchen and his eyes twinkled while he thumbed through his images.
Stu’s pride was as broad as his smile.
It was when I asked him his availability for the job that this man of mirth and story first faltered.
“Well, that’s the thing,” he began. “I have cancer, Stage 4.”
Please–keep reading this one at Deeper Story today. Stu’s is an on-going tale, still being written.