Mr. Graff was teaching us about Shakespeare’s Hamlet
in senior English
and commenting on a famous line from the famous play.
“’There’s a special providence
in the fall of a sparrow
,’” he quoted, and looked up at all of us, closing his small, green, hard backed copy of Hamlet
. “Let me tell you all about what that line means.”
He stepped back from his podium and pointed out the window. “It’s smack-dab in the dead of winter…there’s a blizzard
going on and there’s a tiny bird sitting on some bare, cold branch…and it dies
and drops into the snow
…and no one ever misses it or notices that it’s gone…but you know what? It is
noticed…by something greater than the bird, greater than the tree
and greater than the snow. What ever you believe is higher is your own business, different strokes for different folks and all that, but whatever you believe, there’s got to be something higher that sees it. Every little thing is noticed somehow, especially when it’s not there anymore.”
He stopped for a few moments, slightly switched gears
, and went on.
“When my father was still alive, I used to drive over to Scranton almost every day to visit him. And every day, along side the highway going to Scranton, this old guy walked. Miles and miles this guy walked, and every day, at the same time. He always wore all black and he had a very bald and very tan head. Man, he had to have been one tough old bird to walk like that every day. I’d drive by and I’d wave…and he’d raise his cane in salute…and other people would wave too. And then, driving to visit my father one day, he wasn’t there. Next day, I tried driving at a slightly different time and with a different speed, and he still wasn’t there. Next day, wasn’t there…next day, wasn’t there…then a few days later I saw him in the obituaries. The Walking Man, they called him…and it never really felt the same driving to Scranton after that. I know I made him feel good when I waved because it turns out that he had been a very lonely person. It’d great to make someone else feel good…even if it’s for a few seconds. You can’t do everything all the time, of course, but as my old boss used to say when I worked part time for a golf course picking up balls, ‘Do whatcha could.’ Just do what you could (or can, for correct grammar), and no matter how small it is, it is never over looked.”