Life in its Lowest Gear

We are on vacation, but our school administrator daughter, Julie Choate, asked for the space this week. My response:  “You have 700 words; make sure they are well-chosen. My readers deserve a refreshing change.”

Often quipped and sometimes true is the adage about apples falling pretty much straight down from trees.  This hardly applies to Uncle Mort and his younger brother Bud, who lives even deeper in the thicket. They’re as opposite as flapjacks and crepes.

Big Thicket home of Uncle Mort and Bud

While Mort is keyed-up 24/7, Bud is calm, cool and collected, taking on life in the lowest gear. Usually preferring silence to conversation, Bud is one of few words. When he does speak, his words are well-chosen and helpful – wisdom for the ages. His kids take “Bud-isms” to the heart, quoting them regularly. And his five grandchildren, ages eight to twenty-six, can recite them at will. (They even have them numbered to save time.)

Sadly, many thicket visitors don’t make it past Uncle Mort’s nonsense when seeking directions to Bud’s house, so his quiet wisdom rarely appears in print.

Convinced that today’s children live in an era of entitlement—getting what they want when they want it, with participation ribbons for all – Bud drags out the “whoever said life is fair” bromide. His kids had chores.

I remember his younger son admitting he didn’t want to clean the garage one Saturday, as instructed. It was a hot day, and at age sixteen, manual labor held little appeal. “You’re not big enough to make me anymore,” he bragged.

“You’re right.  I’m not big enough to make you, but I AM big enough to make you WISH you’d done it,” Bud smiled, dangling car keys the teen had hoped to claim for the evening. (Aside: The garage was spotless in short order.)

Bud and his wife had a simple approach to parenting.  They have two grown sons who have applied their dad’s oft-spoken advice on child-rearing: “Love on their heads and spank on their bottoms—the former more often than the latter.”

Both treasure their dad’s sincere “I love you” and “I’m proud of you” comments, sincerely verbalized even to this day.

They know that he means every word, and that they’re never too old to hug their daddy.

“Bud-isms” extend beyond child-rearing—even to game tables.

An avid “forty-two” player, he tries to keep the dominoes moving with his “think long, think wrong” philosophy.

He quotes this line to his partner and opponents as well, and offers this advice freely as well: “If the dominoes are falling your way, bid it up.”

Big Thicket Swamp

He’s never spent much time worrying about anything.  He offers comforting advice when his wife frets over whether to purchase “this or that.” His motto: “Spend a little and save a little.”

Once he conversed with a friend who wanted to purchase a 4 x 4 truck.  Uncle Bud asked him how much time he felt he’d actually use the 4 x 4 feature. “Maybe ten percent of the time,” his friend responded.

“You don’t need to plan for ten percent of your time,” Bud suggested. Again, quiet wisdom

 His advice to husbands is timeless.  He’s a veteran in marriage, now in his fifty-eighth year of wedlock. “You can be right, or you can be happy,” he jokes.

Kidding aside, he and his wife epitomize a successful marriage. This is a “loud and clear” message, important for the folks who don’t ever venture deep into the thicket.

A practitioner of “old-time religion,” Bud contends that the Lord can use any situation for His good. So really, what’s left to get riled up about?

We’ve touched but few “Bud-isms” picked up over the years. But we believe his philosophy to be timeless, priceless and well worth sharing.  Lots of folks could benefit from heeding his words.

Speaking of words, he’s habitually had these to share with his wife when it’s time to tackle the drive home: “I’m done here. Heading south.”

A final thought: Knowing that Uncle Mort loves seeing his name and belly-aching in print, I had some initial reservations about telling Uncle Bud stories, given his quiet nature. So, I asked Bud’s permission, and he was quick to answer, “Say whatever you’d like – as long as it’s not too nice.”

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Email: Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site:

Don Newbury is author of his book of humor, When the Porch Light’s On …

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