You never know how you will impact the life of another.
I find this statement in truth in many ways….
Years ago, when I was a child – back in the day – I walked to school….alone….and I was 5.
Scares you to think about it doesn’t it? Makes you cringe a bit. But if you are anywhere near my age (29 and holding…wink wink) you know what I am talking about.
Just a little backstory on me. I’m one of 5. Children. Catholic. (let it sink in).
I was #4….out of 5…. I was very…independent…. because that’s how happened back then.
I would walk to school and home, by myself and I thought nothing of it. It was freedom at its best.
On my way home from school one day, I noticed a man and his wife sitting on chairs in their garage as all the kids passed by. The driveway was long and narrow, so they weren’t real close… and I’m sure I passed many times before curiosity got the best of me. I decided to approach said man and wife, and introduce myself.
I remember it vaguely, yet clearly… I looked at them and said “HI”, and probably asked their names… they said Hi back. The man introduced himself as George. I looked at “the lady” and pointed to her and said, “Who’s that?”, and all I remember is her name was Ruth. (Rumor has it, I called her “ROOT”, being so young)
From that day on, they were my friends. I never felt anything but acceptance and love from them. I passed them every day as they were literally, over the wall from my house.
Soon, we became “over the wall friends”. Lo and behold, they were neighbors since we moved there in ’73 and I was in school by ’74. However my parents never heard of them until I made the introduction (shame on my 3 older siblings…LOL).
It wasn’t long after our introduction, I was sitting on the wall and saw George out back. I asked where Ruth was. He said she passed on. I didn’t know what that meant, so I asked if she’d be back and he said “No”. I never thought anything of it, being so young. That was in ’75. I was 6.
After that, I visited him regularly, playing in his living room with his cane and top hat and dancing around without a care in the world. At the time, I had NO idea how special this time with George was. All I know was, I got to play as I wished, had Baby Ruth candy bars and Mr. Peanut bars….steel pennies (from the war era), comic books and amazingly fond memories of being a child with every moment we had together.
As I got older, I saw him a bit less. Time paved the way to friends and bikes and growing up.
One day, I was out playing. I saw some strange people gathering in front of his house. I was curious, so I stopped and watched. When they noticed me, I bravely asked them, “Are you here to see George?”……
……….I have never forgotten that day.
As they climbed out of their car, the lady looked across at the man, and I can still remember the feeling of hesitation in her face… yet she was the one who looked back at me and said, “George has passed…. didn’t you know?”
Feeling like I was hit in the face with a 2×4 I looked at the woman and said, “Okay, thank you”…and I turned toward home….
WHEN you are stricken with moments of crisis, something interesting happens….Everything slows down to a micro second…..
I remember every step I took on the way home… nary a few feet and a fence to climb, with a ladder provided by the man who had passed…
I climbed the ladder, jumped the wall and walked into my house as if in a cloud of surreal moments…
My parents were about to hear the bad news and I was fearful they wouldn’t hear me, so I practiced my speech so I would sound important, yet at the same time my soul was dying with each step I took.
The man who allowed me to exist in complete freedom without a second of doubt or fear had been taken from me and as I am so young, I have NO IDEA how this loss will affect the rest of my life….
Yet, in this moment, my biggest goal, is to tell my parents, HOPING, they will understand the gravity of the pain that I feel, and take pause for just a moment… and I fear it will be lost on them… so I practice my speech with each step down the hall…..
and I arrive at their door….
I walk in and see my dad on the floor, watching football (the sport that dictates that nothing else is present in the world).
I call to my dad and his response is “Ya baby”, My nickname from him… I tell him “George died”….
…..and I wait ………
in that moment of pause…wondering what the reaction will be, I am ready for my dad to say, “hang on a minute” as something is happening HUGE in the game…..
but instead…. there is a brief pause… my dad turns OFF the game… and utters expletives in disappointment…..
he knows my pain… he feels it too. And in that moment, I realize that my dad knows how special this man is… and it means the world to me.
George died in 1979. He was one of THE most amazing people in my life and when I die, I expect to see his face, for all the tears I have cried.
What I know: the length of time we know someone is insignificant. The IMPACT we make on someones life is INSURMOUNTABLE!
I knew George for 5 years. I’m 48. The weight of his impact is LIFE LONG….
I wanted to know him longer, but I never got the time. I have to live on what was given me, and over my time of evaluation, this is what I have learned:
JUDGEMENT is LIFELONG
POSITIVITY is LIFELONG
NEGATIVITY is LIFELONG…..
CHOOSE YOUR LIFELONG!!!! and choose wisely. It takes just as long to break someone down as it does to build them up. Both choices last a lifetime and both choices can either contribute to… or contaminate another….
Please choose good over evil…
and share the love….