Jim pushed his paperwork around the table like a child does their peas around the plate. He recounted the phrase in his head, over and over again like clockwork. The syllables clasped his brain as he studied the sentence inside his head; words of wisdom served to him from beyond the grave.
‘You’re never too old to learn something new and never too young to teach’ was the phrase that had changed his life in ways he couldn’t quite explain, ways which were far less tangible; they were floating in the air around him.
He never said anything profound when he was here thought Jim as he eyed the frayed polka dot notebook from across the dining table, and now his words dictate my life.
By then, Jim could identify every single scribble and scribing in that ragged journal, and although he had the ability to recite the entries in his head, still liked the feel of the paper running through his hands.
‘People didn’t know him like I did. People were always quick to judge because of his attention deficit and often brash demeanour, but I knew him. He talked about his friend Jim with passion and grace, he always helped his younger siblings with their homework and through personal choice, his charitable deeds went completely unnoticed.
All that volunteer work after college, and the funds he raised for various charitable causes: he never ever congratulated himself on social media or used it as a weapon when people would question his intelligence. He simply wanted to help people: nothing more, nothing less. He once said to me that…’
Salt rain fell on the page. The book was clasped shut and polka dots danced on the dining table once more.
He was Jim’s best friend but in later years, someone Jim kept at arm’s length. He was undeniably funny, but his drinking and inappropriate language often embarrassed Jim, so Jim would make up any excuse not to invite him to social occasions. In the end, Jim saw him as an embarrassing ailment that was best kept from public consumption.
At the funeral, a cherub faced man with drinker’s cheeks handed him a polka dot book, along with the words everyone deserves to be seen in their natural light. At the time, Jim was riddled with guilt and confusion so didn’t think to question the middle aged man, or who he was.
Jim didn’t have long left himself, but he knew his demise wasn’t going to be quick and painless like his friend’s.
As he picked up a fountain pen and pulled the cellophane away from a fresh notepad with his front teeth, Jim had one single thought running through his head:
You’re never too old to learn something new and never too young to teach.