May 13th, 2012

 Dear Readers,

              First of all, I would like to extend my greetings to all of you and hope that this holiday weekend, at least here in the States, brings you together with your family and affords you the opportunity to honor the moms in your life, the best that you can. For those of you who are not able or whose moms have passed on, I can only wish that this day brings sweet memories and not too much sadness for you.

              With that in mind, I would like to share part of an email that  I wrote to a dear friend this morning, a young man who many of you are familiar with, and who I have been gradually getting to know through our communications in the past month or so. I will not divulge anything personal about him, but the last part of the email that I wrote this morning, speaks to some issues in life that I think are topical and important on a day like today. I don’t think Richard will mind if I share this part with you. I hope you will see why.

             I should also note that as has been the case forever in my family, occasionally, this celebration falls on the same day as my father’s birthday… May the 13th. It is also my Uncle Stanley’s birthday… Uncle Stosh, as I occasionally call him. He’s just turned 88 years young, I believe, and shares the same love of gardening as me. In fact, shortly, we will be planting the carefully nurtured seedlings that we grew all winter in our south- facing windows into soil first tilled by his mom and dad over a century ago. I carry on the tradition of nurturing and feeding as did my grandparents, who I have just faint memories of. They both died when I was but a child, and still riding my tricylce through the backyard gardens to my grandma’s dismay. lol What can I say? I was a feisty little kid, and still learning, like I am today.

              Well, time is running short, because I have a party to attend, so with that, I will post the most pertinent part of this morning’s message to Richard, and wish him and all of you a nice and joyful holiday. And, I hope we never forget that we are all here for just a moment in time….  tman


…………..     I have lived my whole life by that code, and it will never change. Maybe they can inscribe that on my tombstone some day. “He loved people, and demanded that of them…” lol If I have a tombstone. I’ve always told my older Godchildren that when I’m ready to leave this world, I may climb to a mountaintop and just watch the sunset like an old Indian chief, and wait for my time to end… It comes to me in dreams sometimes, so maybe it will happen that way.
                     But whatever happens, I want to be remembered as a loving man who stood against hatred and made a difference. A warrior, but a peacemaker as well.
                    That is why I talk to people, everywhere I go in life. Even when I do the most mundane things. lol  You know, I’m laughing because yesterday I met a LOT of different people out and about, and shared my love with most of them… One guy was about… actually, EXACTLY 84 years old. He told me so, as we talked about his grandson and the tomato plant he was buying for him… lol  He was with a friend of his at a farm I went to that sells plants. Flowers and  vegetable plants. I was there to buy a nice hanging plant for my mom… Oh, before I go on, I meant to remind you that today is Mother’s Day!! I’m sure you must know that, but I had meant to remind you a few days ago, so that you would remember to honor your mom in some way… 🙂
                  Anyways, I was talking and joking with this older guy and his buddy. And other people walking by as well. They all seemed to enjoy talking, and let’s face it- being friendly doesn’t cost a penny! lol  Well, we traded a few jokes… His were better than mine, but he laughed at mine, nonetheless. A very nice man… But something seemed to be bothering him, and when I reminded him that the next day was going to be Mother’s Day, I saw a look of sadness come to his face. He kind of looked down and then wiped a tear from his eye and told me that he hadn’t forgotten, but that his wife of 65 years was not doing well. In fact, she was in hospice care, and likely would not be with us much longer.
                  I could see that he was struggling with the obvious… This would be her last Mother’s Day. So, I extended my hand and said, “First of all, I want to congratulate you on 65 years of marriage! That’s amazing! You and your wife must really love each other to be together all of that time. My parents have been married for 63 years and I thought that was a long time! But I want to tell you something else. I hope you don’t mind me saying so… I watched the joy on your face as you picked out that special tomato plant for your Grandson to take care of… the one that you are going to give him tomorrow, to remind him how fragile life is.  I know that it’s hard for a kid to understand that, but it’s a lesson that he will never forget. And, I want to tell you that he will never forget you or your wife of 65 years, because you are teaching him one of the most important lessons he could ever learn. And when she passes on, as we all must do some day, that will remain in his heart. He will remember it and it will nurture everyone around him his entire life.”
                   I didn’t want to make him cry, but I’m afraid he did… I told him I was sorry to make him sad, but he waved his hand and said, “No… no… you didn’t make me sad, you made me remember all of the good things about life that sometimes people just don’t seem to understand… I was buying this plant for those very reasons and for a while, I thought I was being silly. My grandson is only this tall… (he held out his hand and showed me that he was still very young)  I was hoping that it would mean more to him if I gave him something from me and his grandma that he could care for, even after she’s gone.”
                 Well Richard, I tried to hold back my tears because it was the sweetest thing I’ve seen in quite a while, and because it reminded me that there are mostly good people out there, everywhere you go in life.
                 I saw the two old guys as they were leaving, and I was loading my pickup truck with the things I bought. I didn’t notice at first, but an SUV came around the corner from the greenhouse where I was parked and as it approached, the windows rolled down. I glanced at it, and there was the two older gentlemen, beaming away at me. The grandfather gestured to me to come over to talk, so I put down the plants I was loading off the green cart that I had and walked over to say goodbye.
                When I got to his window, he extended his hand and said, “Thank you for being so kind and listening to the sadness of an old man… I wanted to tell you that I’ll be all right. I’ve shared 65 wonderful years with  the love of my life, and we’ve had a great run. It’s time for us to move on, but it’s OK. That’s as it should be…” And then he reached down onto the floor and in his hand was a little tomato plant. He handed it to me and said, “I hope it feeds your family and the people you love, even just a little.”
              That little gesture, Richard, is what life is all about. There is no love without giving, and it never fails that when you love people, it will be returned when you need it most. Never forget the lessons of an old man. He was young once too.
love and hugs, Tony