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Mr. Peel and the ‘simple things’
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Pastor Jim Jackson

Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church

Troy E. Peel was my father-in-law. He died last week in Tampa, Florida, after reaching nearly ninety years of age. I remember him as an outdoors man who worked hard and found joy in life’s most simple offerings.

A car was a means of getting to one place from another, thus chrome, whitewall tires and a radio failed to impress him. Home for Mr. Peel was a place for living. So while he liked it clean, he wasn’t bothered much about how things matched or what others though about them. Home for him was a quiet and comfortable place where one found rest, renewal and rewarding relationships.

I mentioned his joy in life’s more simple offerings. Water. Have you ever noticed how hard working people take a great pleasure in water. Mr. Peel did.

Whether drinking from a glass in the house or from his cupped hands at a spigot in the yard, his pleasure in drinking was obvious. Often the last swallow would be punctuated with a hearty “ahh!”

Oysters, my how that man loved oysters, He enjoyed them fried, stewed, and baked, but his greatest pleasure was in eating them right out of the shell. When he was younger, he plucked them out of Tampa Bay himself. In later years, they were brought to him by his sons-in-law.

Those occasions became ritualistic celebrations of life, and Mr. Peel served them as a high priest. A burlap bag of oysters in the shell would serve as the focal point, usually under an orange tree in the backyard. With sons-in-law and grandchildren gathered around, Mr. Peel officiated. He was fast when it came to opening oysters, so fast that when it came to opening oysters, other openers weren’t needed. In between serving us, he would grab one for himself, pop it open, and with deft moves of his old oyster knife, flop the top on the ground. cut the creature loose from his mooring, drop it in some hot sauce and turn it up.

And when that morsel had descended his throat, he would often give forth with something akin to amen, “ahh!”

I don’t know much about heaven myself, but I’m sure that simple will satisfy Mr. Peel. And somehow or another, I think life for those of us who are still here would be more like heaven if we too would learn to take pleasure in the simple things.

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