Jack, the owner and tailor and the dry cleaning shop down the street from my house, has figured out the important parts of life and smiles like a man who knows that.   I’ve become friends with Jack after hitting his shop once every week or two for the past year and change.  He is a proud family man who understands hard work.  He runs his shop alone, consistently putting in 18 hour days and working through weekends when the jobs pile up.  Every night, no matter the hour, he has a wife at home waiting with their dinner.  She won’t eat without him.  His children are grown, but make cameos at the shop when he needs, and his wife has been known to put in a few shifts herself when he just can’t keep up.  

This year I stopped by just before Christmas to drop off a little holiday gift and we got to talking.  I asked what his plans were and he explained he would work up until Christmas morning, then jump in his car and head 6 hours up north to his brother’s house to see the family.  In Jack’s case “family” means just over 60 people.  He’ll spend most of the day manning the grill, feeding as many as he can before finally sitting down to his own plate.  I laughed and commented that Jack even works on his days off, to which he just smiled.  His face lit up and his eyes gleamed as he explained that being with family is never work.  Jack has a new grandchild, and every chance to spend time with his family is a blessing.  ”I am very lucky!”, Jack said with an accent I can’t properly place, and smiled while he wished me a happy holiday.  

I hope that no matter where my life takes me, and no matter how much work comes my way, I remember to smile like Jack and remind myself of what is truly important.  A healthy family, and someone next to me when I get home.  Jack is indeed a very lucky man.

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