The next day was free of dramatic confrontations. Mr. Pemberton had decided to let me finish my current work before approaching another realtor. I told him I was fine if he hired another realtor immediately but he refused.
I stayed a little later than normal as I wanted to finish painting “The Fight” room, or the room where Diane Spinster and I had our battle. It was about eight o’clock or so when I finished cleaning my brush in the big soap stone sink in what felt like a prehistoric basement. I walked up the stairs and into the kitchen to find Mr. Pemberton preparing his dinner.
“Would you like to stay for dinner? I’m cooking some salmon and potatoes.”
“Oh jeez, thank you but I don’t wanna make more work for you.”
“It’s absolutely no problem. There may be an 18-year old scotch that precedes the dinner.”
“Arm twisted…where do I sign?”
“You don’t need to sign anything but you do need to pour us some Glenlivet. The glasses are in the cabinet of the dishwasher. If you want ice, please grab some out of the freezer.”
“Thank you Mr. Pemberton but I have no intention of poisoning this elite glass of scotch with Boston water.”
“Good man! Although I do recommend putting a few drops of some bottled water in your scotch. It opens up the flavor a little more.”
He was right. Mr. Pemberton was full of knowledge that made life so appealing. And the great thing was that there was never any arrogance or pressure that accompanied his advice which made me trust and want to follow it that much more. Some part of me shuts down whenever someone haughtily tries to force-feed me knowledge, even knowledge that helps me avoid certain disaster.
Mr. Pemberton brought two plates of masterfully prepared food to the table. As he set the plates down, he asked me, “Beer or wine?”
“I’ll take some of that red you’re drinking if you don’t mind.”
“Excellent. I know you’re not supposed to drink red wine with fish but one day I simply decided that I would dictate what wine I would drink with what dishes. That was a good day.” He handed me a glass of something that smelled better than I could ever hope to. We ate. He asked about my background and I told him.
He asked about my current line of work; was it something I wanted to do forever? I told him that I don’t know. I’ve never known. Sometimes I thought I knew what I wanted but then something else would interest me. When I was a child, I thought I would have figured it all out by now. I thought I would have had a wife and a family and a house. I didn’t necessarily have any regrets but I couldn’t help but wonder what might have happened if I did things differently. I was still young at the point of this conversation but I don’t think I’ve changed my overall approach to life. I try to do the right thing each day and enjoy the moment.
“This approach seems to have compromised a potentially rich future or a meaningful career but it has not compromised my soul, I feel. So no matter what, I feel that when I die, I will have few regrets.”
He smiled at this. It was almost a smile of relief. He knew I wasn’t trying to impress him. He knew I was being plain. “What do you want from life?”
“I want the same thing I’ve always wanted. I want to have a strong connection with God. I want to be as God wants me to be…whatever that means. If being a handyman and living from job to job is what this means, then so be it.”
“Are you at peace with your life now as it is?”
“I’m not sure. Part of me feels I will be someday, that I will either encounter a more fulfilling and inspiring way to spend my days or that I will simply become completely at peace with my current life.”
All of Mr. Pemberton’s questions were asked in a consistent, even manner, as if I were on the stand being questioned by a really nice lawyer who really liked me. He may not have known all the answers but upon hearing my answers, he showed no great surprise. I seemed to be confirming his instincts. “Would you ask God for these answers?”
“No. I honestly feel like I’m pestering God with such questions. If we believe God to be a perfect or omniscient force that we have complete faith in, then I feel it’s my obligation to have complete faith in His will, even if I suffer. I don’t think I’m supposed to have all the answers. I feel I’m supposed to muck about in the uhh, well, muck, I guess, for a while.”
My last response caused him to reflect for a few moments. “I admire your faith. I don’t say that in a trite or condescending way; I do genuinely admire your faith. I have seen so much death and war that my faith has decayed. Ironically, the more my faith decayed, the more successful I became in my career. I don’t know if the two are related. I’m not saying only faithless people become successful but what I can tell you is that I felt a hole in me and evolving my career seemed to fill that hole at the time.”
“And I have experienced the opposite! I have held onto my faith and watched my career stagnate. Perhaps we can find a way to hold onto our faith and enjoy some human success.”
“Yes, I think we can.