2017-09-14 / Viewpoint

The VIEW from here

The Salt of the Earth

Alex Petrie Staff Writer Alex Petrie Staff Writer I ’m a little bit of a mama’s boy. Always have been, and I have no qualms with that. Fortunately for me, my father has always been present and dependable, affording me a sturdy archetype, a pattern by which I can measure myself and other men. (Thanks, Dad.) But my true standard for human excellence has always been my mom. I don’t think my dad would take offense to that. He married her. He knows she’s special. Everybody that knows her knows that she’s special. And I don’t use that term loosely. Although I was raised in an age where everybody was told that they were exceptional, I can’t stress enough that I firmly believe most people are nothing more than ordinary, average, lackluster. But not Lisa Petrie.

I’m gonna make a confession. I just figured out what the phrase “salt of the earth” meant, like, less than a year ago. I always thought of it as a backhanded compliment for simpletons. I was mistaken. But now that I get it, it makes a lot of sense. It’s a commendation of the highest order, a distinction of the chosen few that make this world not only tolerable, but pleasant. It’s the mark of the great balancers, the delightful and charming, without whom, we’d all be puckering in revulsion. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit since it clicked, and I can’t think of a more suitable application of the expression than its use as a description of my mom.

Firstly, it’s biblical. And she’s nothing if not a staunch and stalwart Christian. Unwavering in her faith, to the point of almost irrational. However, much like biblical and noble literary figures who initially appear illogical or unreasonable, she routinely proves to be spot-on in the end. It’s a rare and exceptional circumstance that I find her to be in the wrong. She’s basically a living Aesop Fable. And I can’t express how much I want her to be wrong. I scour for cracks in her resolve, for flaws in her judgment, but to no avail.

And you know what’s even more vexing than being proven wrong? The fact that she doesn’t seem to gloat or revel in her righteousness. Her triumphs are typically kept quiet and cloistered, internalized, seemingly saved for the afterlife, where she’ll probably share each of them in great detail with God, and they’ll laugh and laugh, rejoicing in her astonishing patience and fortitude.

As I’ve grown and matured, borne witness to all the ugliness out there, I’ve only become more aware of what I knew as a child, which is that Lisa Petrie is different than other people. It’s most visible in the reactions of those that know her. The good recognize good, acknowledging her genuine decency with a convivial embrace. And the unpleasant or bitter will sidestep her with their perpetual pucker. But, if you know Lisa, then you know she’s still gonna smile and say hi. Because, like salt, her purpose is to serve, regardless of circumstance.

So, if you’re a good person, wish her a happy birthday. And if you’re not, she doesn’t care. Say it anyway.

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