The Old Man

old man in wheelchair
The old man sat in his wheelchair in front of the big window, watching the clouds gather, turning darker. A young aide nearby said, “Well Mr. Arneson, it looks like it’s going to rain.”

“Arne” Arneson was known as the grumpiest guy in the nursing home. He turned his head painfully toward the young man and quipped, “Aw, what do you know?”

The young man replied, “I’m in college. I’m going to be a meteorologist.”

“A meteor what?” Arne asked.

“A meteorologist. It’s a fancy name for a weatherman.”

“Huh,” Arne grumbled. “In my day, we didn’t need no fancy meteorologist to tell us the weather. We knew by the signs. Nature, boy. Tells you all you need to know.”

“My father was a farmer,” the young man said. “He taught me all about the signs of nature. How to tell when the weather was changing, how to know when to plant, when to harvest. It’s what got me interested in meteorology. He died last year. I really miss him and the time we had together.”

“Yeah well I miss smoking my pipe. Don’t let you have no pipe in here. Sir Walter Raleigh. Best smoke ever.”

The next day the young aide found Arne in the Great Room in front of the window. The day was bright and clear after yesterday’s rain. He asked if Arne would like to go outside. Arne only grunted. The young man steered the wheelchair down a hallway and they went out through a side door. Parking the chair in the shade, the young man sat on a bench next to Arne. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a corn cob pipe, and a pouch of Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco. “I thought you might like a smoke,” he said. Arne stared at the young man as he placed the pipe and tobacco in Arne’s hands. Arne fumbled with the pouch and the aide held out his hand. “Mind if I do it,” he asked.

The young man took the pouch and pipe back. “The man at the tobacco store showed me how to pack it.” He opened the pouch, packed the pipe with tobacco and handed it back to Arne. Arne gripped the pipe between his teeth while the young man produced a match and lit it.

Arne puffed up a cloud of smoke and took the pipe from his mouth. Putting it back he puffed some more. As they watched the fluffy clouds float by the young man told Arne all the scientific names for the various cloud types. After awhile, Arne said, “You know, you just might make a good meteorologist.”

The young man turned his head toward Arne and asked, “Aw, what do you know?” And they laughed.

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