By Gerald Hausman
Santa Fe, NM, USA

Somehow, I think everyone is unforgettable. Fred Rogers agreed with me on that when I told him, “Anyone can be a poet.” He returned, “Everyone, or anyone, can be if they have the will to be.”

That really stuck in my mind.

The other day while shopping at Smith’s, I saw a package of cookies that had fallen off a table. People were stepping mincingly around it, but no one picked it up. I thought of Fred and imagined I heard his voice, “Go ahead, pick up the cookies.” I did that and one of the roving employees said, as he watched me with a smile, “In a lifetime a man will eat one hundred pounds of dirt. Look it up. It’s in the Guinness Book of World Records.”

I didn’t have to look it up. I believed him. He was unforgettable. So were the chocolate chip cookies no one wanted to pick up.

I began to think about unforgettable people I had met in my life. “Wisdom keepers,” my Navajo friend, Bluejay, called them.

One of my favorite remembrances from an unforgettable person was my grandfather. He was a collector, an archivist. He had Matthew Brady photographs in his file and a letter from George Washington and an unforgettable message from Abraham Lincoln.

I can still see Lincoln’s script and hear my grandfather’s voice reading that script. He said, quoting Lincoln: “Please forgive this man for falling asleep on guard duty.” It was signed A. Lincoln.

Signature of Abraham Lincoln

My grandfather said, “Everything is forgiven.”

An oral poet named Halsey Davis once said to me, quoting one of his own beautiful poems: “The thing about Mozart is that he does everything beautiful twice.”

“What about the rest of us?” I asked.

“All is forgiven them, and all are welcome who did everything beautiful twice.”

I have remembered that line all of my adult life. It was unforgettable. It was a teachable moment, like the hearing of Lincoln’s forgiveness.


Once when I was talking to my great Aunt Edith, she commented on her ninety-ninth year on earth. “How do you feel about going to your hundredth birthday party tomorrow?” I asked.

“Oh,” she said with a sigh, “I don’t think I’ll make it.”

“But you’ve come all this way … and your birthday is just hours away.”

“Well,” she said, smiling, “I’ve seen so many of these before.”

She passed in the night with a smile on her lips.

Gerald Hausman

I remember another one-liner from an octogenarian who said a poem to me at the post office. “Life is simple,” he said. Then he spoke his poem:

“I have my hill
I have my will
I don’t need
To take a pill.”


I got to know this unforgettable stranger. Turned out, he was a student of Sigmund Freud. Not just any student; he actually sat with the man and discussed dreams with him on many occasions.

When I asked what he meant by the word will, he answered, “Well, I don’t mean the kind that settles an estate. I am referring to the kind of will that enables us to walk at age one. The kind of will that sees us through to the end.”

“What end?” I asked.

“Whatever one you believe in,” he answered.

My father once showed me a letter which expressed something about the other kind of will. It was a letter asking my dad to be another man’s executor. The letter said, “You are the only one I ever trusted.”

“Who is this guy?” I asked.

My father replied, “He is the man who got me fired from the best job I ever had.”

“Why did he do it?”

“He wanted my job, my position, all that I had built up for the company that bore my name.”

“That sounds complicated and crazy.”

My father nodded and smiled. “He was a crook.”

A few years later I heard a cowboy express it this way, “There’s no road so straight,” he drawled, “that there isn’t a crook up ahead somewhere.”

One way or another, we all learn how the world works. Turns out, the cheaters and
saints are much the same. They seek the company of those who are like them.


Last night, walking in the unsettling early dark of eventide, I saw a group of crows. They were whispering to one another. I got out my pen and wrote a poem about them:

Ravens in a tree of night
Each one black as snow is white
Shoulder to shoulder, sister to brother
Birds of a feather stick together


Fred Rogers told me, “There is wisdom everywhere.”

I said to him, “Last night I dreamed I met Osama Bin Laden. Is there wisdom in that?”

Fred’s answer: “You are getting closer to God.”

Fred Rogers (circa 1960s)

I believe I knew what he meant; in heaven, everything is forgiven.

But I pressed Fred further. “God forgives murderers?”

“Even so,” he said.


Gerald Hausman is an award-winning, bestselling author and storyteller. 
His memoir, Little Miracles, was published in July 2019.

All opinions expressed are solely those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of Stay Thirsty Media, Inc.