by Shawn

I never understood the expression "There is more than one way to skin a cat". I mean, is there really more than one way?, And if there is is it all that different from the other way? But in response to my whining self-pity over my current life-status, my mentor, the one person I can bear my soul to says to me, "Honey, there is more than one way to skin a cat."

My granfather, Charlie Hudson will be turning 101 this summer, and for the last 25 of those years he has given me the best advice on any problem life has thrown my way. So, now when the chips are down, and I mean way down, I turn to him. There is no problem too big for Charlie. He has lived through seven wives, has been in two wars, been struck by lightning twice, has been through the rise and fall of the stock market (and paid dearly), and has pretty much came out unscathed. He claims to be pissed to have lived a hundred years, says he should have gotten "early retirement from life", but I keep reassuring him that he is here to be my rock through all the crap descisions I make, and then have to deal with.

My current situation has been coming to a head for months, my husband and I have been married for three years, I want babies, he doesn't. Plain and simple. In a heated argument over the matter earlier, I told him I wanted a baby or a new husband!I have never been good with words.

"So Charlie?...exactly how should I skin this cat?" I ask, hoping for real advice.

"With an ice pick sugah."

"Charlie! Seriously!"

"I ain't foolin sugah, poke some holes in your condoms and bam!, problem solved. You ain't done nothin' wrong, it was that damned condom company, or Jake's fault for puttin' it on wrong!" Charlie spoke with a little cackle in his voice he always had when he was scheming.

Hmmm...well, there's one way.

"Charlie, you know I can't do that, but thank you for the idea anyway."

Rose, Charlie's nurse walked in just before seven o'clock with his evening snack of prunes and vanilla ice cream and we talked a little more while he ate and soon afterward he nodded off to sleep. It is so hard for me to think that one day not very far away he may drift off and never come back. But he is here now and I'll cherish every moment.

I slept on the sofa last night. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? I then woke up to scrambled eggs and bacon and some really strong coffee, that is Jake's way of saying lets just stop fighting. I gave in and we ate and I went to work and then to visit Charlie afterward.

"Charlie?" I called into the upstairs bedroom where he usually sits and terrorizes young women on the internet. No answer. I call again and Rose pops in. "If you are looking for Charlie, I am not supposed to tell you that he is out back shootin' skeets, if you want my opinion he's half-dead and half-crazy."

"No Rose", I replied. "You are wrong, he is very alive, and he is all crazy!"

I wandered out of the garden at the back of the house and there he was, gun in hand. "Charlie, what are you thinking, you could.."

"What, break a hip? Sugah, I am a hundred years old if it was gonna happen it would have done it on the way down the stairs, now back up, i have seven left to go and I am 13 and 0."

Seven later he was 20 and 0. "Nice, Charlie are you trying to prove you still go it?" I asked.

"I already knew that" he said.

"Listen sugah," he said, "I have been wanting to talk to you, don't worry about that baby thing, I won't be around much longer and when I get to where I am going I think I'll call in a favor from the Big Man."


"Think you can wait?" he interrupted.

"Let's go in and have some dinner" I said.

I ate dinner with Charlie every chance I could, usually twice a week or so since he had to hire a nurse and couldn't get out much anymore. I guessed it had been close to three years. Charlie died six days after his one hundred and first birthday. I mis him very much. After Charlie's funeral Jake and I were sorting through some old pictures and he found one of me when I was alittle girl, maybe two or three, riding a pony. Jake looked at me and asked, "Should we get one of these?"

"A pony?!" I asked.

"No, he said. " A little rugrat."

"I was thinking, you know, life out- life in."

"Jake, that would be perfect."

Later that night as I was putting things away and I remembered the conversation I had had with Charlie a few months ago. "Thanks Charlie, Thanks Big Man."

"Who are you talking to?" asked Jake.

"My guardian angel." I said.

"Tell Charlie I said hi." Jake laughed.

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