Friday, February 1, 2013

Charley's Treasures: What would mom say?

by Charley Norton

I am blessed to have had some good influences in my life and for me, I think the preverbal “little voice in the back of my head” is derived mostly from them. But like most people, I don’t always listen to the little voice and sometimes find myself wishing I had. If there was a sound from these subtle thoughts, I’d like to think it would be my mother's voice because she represents most of what is good in me. Of the many ways that she influences me, the one that stands out is her ability to find a positive in almost every negative. I can’t say I am even close to mastering this ability but when I am successful at it, it helps to balance my attitude and see the bigger picture. Of the many influences that help in my response to a given situation, this particular influence is the one I have used the most, especially a few months ago when I had a particularly bad string of luck.

In the matter of a couple weeks, my truck radiator failed, I ran out of gas on the lake, both my wife and daughters cars broke down, the engine in one of the jet skis blew up (Dismay, of course), a limb fell on my head and my beloved Toyota Supra, which I spent years building, caught on fire and was severely damaged. These events and others definitely dampened the “fun factor” in my little world until I put things in perspective and listened to the little voice.

When I ran out of gas, I had my dog with me so it was nice to have the company. And while I drifted the currents for an hour or more, it gave me time to think how beautiful it was that day and how fortunate I am to live here. I also got to meet a man and his son, who were nice enough to give me a tow until my friends, who had been looking for me, arrived. That weekend, I took Maggie and Briana camping on the peninsula. While pulling the lantern up in the tree, the limb broke and fell on my head. Although unpleasant, it made for a pretty good laugh once the stars cleared from my eyes. Then the engine failed in the jet ski and I left the girls at the camp while I went back for the other one, which I am fortunate to have use of. But as luck would have it (bad luck that is), my truck ran hot and I barely got the steamy piece of crap back to the house. Luckily, my neighbors were home and loaned me their truck (It’s good to have friends nearby). But being able to (eventually) relax in my favorite place and watch the girls having such a good time in nature was worth any bump on the head or busted truck.
The next day, because my truck was busted, I drove the Supra to work . Late in the day, life alert called and said moms emergency button was depressed, which turned out to be a false alarm. Not knowing this at the time, I drove the Supra (like it was stolen) to her house and when I got there, my engine caught on fire. I was so thankful it was my car and not my mom that was in trouble. The next day, Maggie came with me to get the car so I had some quality time with her. I found what a good friend I have with Eddie Creed (Napa Auto Parts). He made use to me a trailer to load my car on. Ken Seiffert (State Farm) did his best with a difficult claim, trying to keep my car from being totaled and even with Maggie and Kim’s cars breaking down, it was good to know there are people I can count on when I need a little help such as Wendell Huddleston (Lakeside Auto), who stopped what he was doing to help Kim get her car going when she stopped by on her way back from Birmingham.

I can’t help but feel blessed to be able to sit at my desk in the early AM drinking coffee and piddling with these stories. And even though my knee is swollen from the hard work the crew and I have been doing these last few weeks, I still have a desk because of them and that’s a lot considering the struggle we’ve had with the economy these last few years. I’m blessed with a family unit and to have come from a family unit full of caring and compassionate people and I am blessed to have friends that are there for me as I am for them.

I don’t claim to be the Ned Flanders (the Simpsons) of Wedowee (Just ask anyone who works with me). I have my moments. When I am aggravated, my words can be much more colorful than those in this magazine and I have made a fool of myself on many an occasion. But I think moms point is to “keep the attitude” or in my case to try. Whatever is bad for you, there is someone else that has it worse. Be thankful for what you have, trust that things will get better and look for the positive in every negative as there usually is one close by.

Charley Norton is the co-owner of Norton’s Flooring with his brother Tom. The company was founded by his parents more than 35 years ago.
Illustrations by Tom Scott.


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