This afternoon I took a ride with my Dad. We got stuck in traffic on I-85 South for awhile and started cussin’ all the politicians that pay a visit to 52 different churches a year that voted against our new highway. We talked for a bit about a business we share, mostly positive– but a few gripes. When we saw the little aberrant Gaston County Mountains and turned over the South Carolina line, we got a little smily. There was a dive bar there with a stars and bars and and star spangled banned crossed over each other called the Bear’s Den. So we wound up through that little Dukes of Hazzard part of where we live in the shadows of Metro-lina to his old acquaintances home. It was one of those fine homes that people live in with deep and abiding love through the whole of their life. The things in the yard spoke to pride and a well lived life– the well lived life of a hard working man. Just up the end of the drive was a man, older and small but strong washing a long line of white five gallon buckets. A pipe line of PVC ran across his yard, its eminence a steel counter under a wooden porch. There was a large walk-in cooler behind his garage with a gambrel and scale hanging before it. Dad had brought a few of our field dressed deer down there a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t the place I normally hire to process. Immediately I knew it was special. Immediately I knew I was going to get back my kill and not some Joe Dude’s meat mixed in with it. The site was surgically aseptic and Pete stood before it smiling the double-sized smile of eyes and mouth and whole face that was genuine and sincere. i don’t recall ever meeting Pete in my busy days of work, but they both said that I did. Pete was one of Dad’s patients for the better balance of forty years, a retired A&P butcher with a secret hobby. Pete didn’t know dad hunted, dad didn’t know that Pete was still butchering- but chance conversations lead to good things.
In the cycle of life you earn things. Dad earned the balance to retire and find recreation with his boys, he earned a relationship with patients that honored his care. That was so apparent in the hugs and hand shakes with Pete and his wife. And Pete, Pete had come full cycle and earned a hobby in his passion. Pete’s work was eloquent. Expert butchery and charcuterie that big city folks would die to know about. Relationships and warm hands shakes and smiles are special things. I am pretty sure as he made those clean folds in the white butcher paper that he smiled each time he wrote our name on the label.