Loneliness. It’s a bizarre feeling when you think about it. How can a person feel alone in a world of billions?
Yet we’ve all felt lonely at one point. This feeling might arise if you’ve lost touch with friends or family, or even if you simply feel misunderstood.
Whatever the case, the solitary life can bring about a source of sadness. Something is missing.
The Seed Sower shared this story about an old man with a secret shame.
Here’s what happened.
Pappy was a pleasant-looking old fellow. He had the whitest hair which he kept neatly cut and combed. His eyes were blue, though faded with age, and they seemed to emit a warmth from within.
His face was quite drawn, but when he smiled, even his wrinkles seemed to soften and smile with him. He had a talent for whistling and did so happily each day as he dusted and swept his pawnshop; even so, he had a secret sadness, but everyone who knew him respected and adored him.
Most of Pappy’s customers returned for their goods, and he did not do much business, but he did not mind. To him, the shop was not a livelihood as much as a welcome pastime.
There was a room in the back of his shop where he spent time tinkering with a menagerie of his own precious items. He referred to this back room as “memory hall.” In it were pocket watches, clocks, and electric trains. There were miniature steam engines and antique toys made of wood, tin, or cast iron, and there were various other obsolete trinkets as well.
Spending time in memory hall delighted him as he recalled many treasured moments from his past. He handled each item with care, and sometimes he would close his eyes and pause to relive a sweet, simple childhood memory.
One day, Pappy was working to his heart’s content reassembling an old railroad lantern. As he worked, he whistled the melody of a railroad tune and reminisced about his own past as a switchman. It was a typical day at the shop. Outside, the sun illuminated the clear sky, and a slight wind passed through the door. Whenever the weather was this nice, Pappy kept the inner door open. He enjoyed the fresh air…almost as much as the distinctive smell of antiques and old engine oil.
As he was polishing his newly restored lantern, he heard the tinkling of his bell on the shop door. The bell, which produced a uniquely charming resound, had been in Pappy’s family for over a hundred years. He cherished it dearly and enjoyed sharing its song with all who came to his shop. Although the bell hung on the inside of the main door, Pappy had strung a wire to the screen door so that it would ring whether the inner door was open or not. Prompted by the bell, he left memory hall to greet his customer.
At first, he did not see her. Her shiny, soft curls barely topped the counter.
“And how can I help you, little lady?” Pappy’s voice was jovial.
“Hello, sir.” The little girl spoke almost in a whisper. She was dainty. Bashful. Innocent. She looked at Pappy with her big brown eyes, then slowly scanned the room in search of something special. Shyly she told him, “I’d like to buy a present, sir.”
“Well, let’s see,” Pappy said, “who is this present for?”