Looking for a thumb

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It was his first intentional act of pleasure outside the womb.

Elbow bent with hand unclasped, the fingers in half-round position, the whole apparatus swung at the shoulder joint towards the head. The fifth, short stubby appendage brushed his lips and sent a previously unknown sensation to the brain.

He did it again, but stopped in mid-movement just as his lips were touched once more. Parting his gums, he clasped something in his mouth. All else faded away. Comfort arrived and spread through his veins. Security. Peace. Contentment. His body relaxed. Eyelids grew heavy as he slipped into the world of dreams. He had found his thumb.

16 Years Later

He pulled on his favorite jeans, buttoned his flannel shirt, grabbed a bag of chips and plopped on the couch. “Life is too complicated,” he muttered, feeling overwhelmed.

Becky showed no interest, calculus was a foreign language, and he hated his hair. Pulling his legs up under him, he slipped on his headphones and sought to get lost in the tunes. Peace seemed a far away planet, unattainable.

35 Years Later

Pulling into the driveway, he surveyed his abode. Two-story house, wife, three kids and debt. House payments, car payments, health bills, braces, credits cards and all else. Seemed every raise was confiscated by eager creditors.

Stepping through the front door, he kissed Cindy, scooped up the paper and settled into his chair. Perusing the local section, he found comfort learning of others’ troubles. Comfort and contentment seemed elusive friends.

80 Years Later

With one hand on the walker and another on the arm rest, he twisted into position for the final approach. Gravity overcame resistance and his aim proved somewhat accurate.

He came to rest on the cushion, though off-center.

“Good enough,” he thought.

His breathing heavy, old battles rushed forward. And pain. Joints worn and stiff. Hearing diminished. Evaporating desire. His throat was sore as he entertained the possibility of another bout of bronchitis. He coughed and slumped lower. Lasting comfort seemed far, far away.

Maybe he was just looking for that thumb again.

Maybe we all are.

Rex Alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is rexalphin@aol.com.