2008 Season

Edition No. 26

September 17, 2008









Dame Fortune shined on me again today, as the practice of law took me across Western Iowa on a beautiful fall day for a visit to a new client in the Grant Woodian community of Jefferson.  Only a few short miles of my journey were on the sterile Eisenhower Interstate, with the majority of the drive to Jefferson being on Highway 30, and with my return trip taking me mostly on the scenic byway of Highway 44. 


Today’s trek was definitely good for the soul.  There’s no better cure for the jangled nerves caused by e-mail, voice mail, demanding clients and ridiculously hectic personal lives than a quiet drive across rural country roads, especially on a spectacular fall day with the Master’s palette of autumn colors on full display.  I highly recommend that any of you in need of respite for your tired souls jump into your car, leave your Crackberry and cell phones behind, and head out onto the open road for some highway therapy. 


Today’s drive could only have been made better if there had been an afternoon baseball game on the radio, preferably a playoff or World Series game, and I was reminded of a similar jaunt across Western Iowa back in the mid-1980s, as I returned from a trial in Ft. Dodge and listened to Ozzie Smith crack out a home run for the Cardinals in a National League Championship game.  I cannot remember the opponent, but I do seem to remember that Ozzie’s blast was either a walk-off winning home run, or that it put the Cardinals in the lead for good.  I will look it up. 


The new client that I met with today is a retired Iowa Supreme Court Justice who had the misfortune of being in an automobile accident several years ago while in Omaha visiting his son, and who is now being sued in Douglas County District Court.  The Judge and his wife live in a beautiful old brick home on a quiet street in Jefferson where they raised their children many years ago.  Before the Judge would agree to sit down and talk business with me, I was forced to the dining room for coffee and coffee cake with the Judge and his lovely bride of more than 50 years; the entire time I felt like I was sitting in the middle of a Norman Rockwell portrait. 


After coffee and our morning snack, we headed into the Judge’s living room for a discussion about the lawsuit, but much more time was spent reminiscing on the Judge’s legal and judicial career, the raising of children back when they did it in the ’60s and ’70s and how we do it now, and about just, well, life.  I could not suppress a big smile when the Judge’s wife, Madonna (great name for someone born in the 1920s), turned to me after a time and said, “Well, what I want to hear about now is your family,” and the best part about it was that she really meant it.  And so I indulged her. 


The most interesting and important thing that I learned from Judge Harris and his wife during my house call to Jefferson today is that even in their timeless home on a quiet street in a placid little community like Jefferson, the Judge and his wife both reflected that the raising of their four children came and went in a “twinkling of the eye,” the great joy of their lives behind them almost before it had even started.  My take-home point from my new client and his wife is to slow it down, take it all in, and savor every moment of our time with our children and loved ones. 


Although I have no scientific support for it, it is clear to me that today’s unsurpassable drive through Hawkeye territory and my enriching meeting with the Judge and his wife were predestined.  The burdens of breadwinning and serving as the paternal head of a busy family put me in need of a spiritual tune-up, and today’s visit to the Jefferson Jiffy Lube filled the bill perfectly. 


Instead of distracting all of you and myself with the point standings and player statistics and other HSL gobbledy-gook, I will instead leave you with the above thoughts and my hope that each of you can find a way to use the advice that was implicit from my meeting with these warm and wonderful Midwesterners.  Don’t ever forget to stop and smell the roses, good friends.