Is Anything All Right?

Hank Mattimore
Reproduced with Permission

When I think of the late Fred Salsman, a fixture at the Senior Center for many years, an expression he often used when he greeted me comes to mind. Fred would look at me mischievously, cock his head to one side, and say, "Well, is anything all right?" The rest of the world says "Is everything all right?" but not Fred. He wanted to know if anything Was okay.

Fred's greeting sure puts a different spin on life doesn't it? If we have lived long enough to have a gray hair or two, we know how rare it is to have even one day when everything is copasetic. Just doesn't happen does it? On the other hand, even on a day from hell, something will be all right. Good grief, if we are still alive to complain about what went wrong, that's one major thing that went right. Old Fred never asked if everything was coming up roses. He just wanted to know if even one little rose was blooming.

Lord knows, as each decade passes, we all experience our share of problems. Aging. as we've heard "ad nauseum" is not for sissies. Along our path through life, we lose parents, siblings, friends, sometimes even our own children. Our physical powers are not what they once were. Maybe we find ourselves single again late in life, or strapped for money or frustrated that we just don't feel as good anymore. Feeling this way, it's damned hard to pretend that everything is great. We know better. Putting on a front and a smile when we are down doesn't fool anybody very long, least of all, ourselves.

Recalling Fred Salsman's quirky greeting, helps me to put things in perspective. It's perspective that lets us smile at our foibles, joke about our wrinkles and take those gray hairs in stride. It's perspective that helps us to see ourselves and the world around us, neither through rose-colored glasses nor through the dark glasses of unrelieved misery.

Despite our losses, despite that arthritic knee, life is still a hoot, still has its moments of wonder and beauty and laughter. Sweet little girls still sell their girl scout cookies; five year old witches and ghosts appear at our door on Halloween; young men and women give their lives for their country; Dads give "horsey back" rides to their kids; grammas kiss the "boo boo" on their grandson's knee, somewhere a couple falls in love and somewhere a new baby cries.

Is anything all right? You betcha it is, Fred. Thanks for asking.