You see, my Dad died and we buried him less than a month ago.
Me...being the 'proper' one....I had to write 'thank you's to those who attended, were invited, sent flowers, or sent cards of sympathy. I've been avoiding it because it was hard enough to get through the burial. But alas, it was time...and the time was now.
As I licked shut the last of 45 envelope cards, I finally let the tears flow. Over and over again, 45 times, I had written my appreciation that people remembered my Dad...and over and over again I told them I was enclosing a small remembrance of him. My friend Sofia had gone to her printer and in each envelope, I placed a card.
The card was a photo of St. Martin de Tours...my father was very Catholic... and he always had this framed picture in his room. Ever since I could remember. Ever since I was small, very small.
It was a photo of a Roman Soldier on a horse, handing his cloak to a beaten-up old man on the side of the road. The story goes that several people had already passed the man, turning the other way and ignoring him. Walking along the street and continuing as if God would not know the truth of what they did.
The Roman Soldier was not 'supposed' to help a poor pagan man. There were rules against this kind of thing. So why did he stop? To give the man a red cloak, a royal cloak, so that he could cover his body.
Not only that. The story continues. The Soldier took the man to an Inn, and paid for the man to stay there for a month. And when the money ran out, the Soldier instructed the innkeeper to just ask him for more money. But the main concern was that this man got fed and was able to continue along in life with a new start.
How many of us would stop to give up our coat? How many of us would then ride the man to an inn? And then how many of us would pay the innkeeper to be sure the man was taken care of for a time? Most people just walked right by this man, purposely crossing the street so they would not have to even walk near him.
My father was like this Good Samaritan, this St. Martin de Tours. He gave his coat to a homeless man at a train station, in the rain. He gave generously to the poor, and he helped when ever he could do a good deed. "One good deed for the day!", my father would say.....and then the day would continue as if each day needed 'one good deed for the day'.
So this is how I grew up. My childhood friends remember me cooking, baking, doing laundry, making lunches, and cleaning the house for us 7 kids.....when I was 13 years old. My Dad...I baked him a cake on Mother's Day even (he thought it was so stupid), but he was my mother and my father. And he taught me how to live.
How every day, there is a second to either ignore the earth, or to make it a better place for some one. One blink of the eye. You can't go back. You have to have guts and be bold and unashamed to help... and if you do more than is expected of you, God sees it.
So I'm sure this is not the last tear that will roll down my cheek for my father...he was my hero. He always knew how to make me feel like I was his only girl. I don't know what special magic he had. But whatever it was, I know one thing. The magic was made out of pure, unadulterated love.
Thank you, dear father of mine. For you taught me how to live. May I always jump at a chance to help...may I always be in a place to make a difference.
And I would be remiss if I did not also thank God. I thank God for my father. I thank him so very much. I just thank God.
I will roll on my right side now, and I will try to take a nap. I am worn thin by writing so many envelopes, and simultaneously, I am relieved to thank the people who knew him....to thank them one last time, with a little remembrance of him: the photo of the Roman Soldier taking off his cloak and giving it to the naked and beat-up old man on the side of the road.
Let us really see what we are looking at. Let us be different, and not like every one else. Let us care, and show that we care.
Afternoon nap as the rain drizzles outside my window. The trees and roses and flowers are happy. I will contemplate this happiness as I sleep, knowing that I did every thing I could for my Dad and his memory.
So that it will live on, and never die.