I lost someone dear to me recently and since then, those who loved and respected him….and there were many….have said the kindest, most generous words about him to me.
- “He was always welcoming, and he made everyone feel like family.”
- “Everyone loved him and he loved everyone.”
- “He was always so interested in what was happening in my life. He made me feel like he was my biggest fan.”
- “He always put others first, no matter what.”
- “He was always smiling.”
I’ve listened as so many people have praised my genuinely loving and kind step-father.
At his memorial service, visitors were invited to stand and share their feelings about Andy. The compliments flowed. As I was leaving the church that day, a church member named Maryann took my hands and locked eyes with me.
“Lisa,” she said with teary eyes, “when I was listening to everyone describe how Andy treated everyone, I couldn’t help but think of you. I think you are like him.”
I smiled and thanked her and told her that while I don’t think I come at all close to deserving that compliment, I will try hard to make it so. After all, my step-father was truly the most accepting, forgiving, and kindest person I’ve ever known.
Driving to the cemetery, I recounted the story to my husband.
Chucking, he said, “Well, you are welcoming to people.”
Chuckling again, he added with a sigh, “But Maryann clearly doesn’t know about that little piece of rock hard ice lodged in your heart.”
He paused, glancing at me as he drove, “Andy didn’t have one of those, you know.”
I should have been offended. But alas, he was right.
My stepfather’s heart was unfettered by the life’s usual conditions. Andy loved unconditionally, forgave unconditionally, and accepted unconditionally. If someone did something that might have disappointed him, he was never disappointed; he was never let down. In fact, the thought of disappointment never even crossed his mind. But when a person succeeded, he was elated. He’d happily share with others about that person’s success and he’d sing that person’s praises again and again. Andy was everyone’s biggest fan and everyone’s greatest cheerleader.
But for me, sadly, people do sometimes disappoint me. And that jagged piece of ice keeps that disappointment from dissolving.
Because when I am wronged by someone, I can remain bitter. And when I am hurt by someone, I can remain resentful. And when I am lied to by someone, I can remain distrustful. And while I might manage to take the high road and still behave reasonably well, those yucky feeling are still there. And even though Taylor Swift keeps telling me to do it, sometimes I just can’t seem to shake it off.
But Andy was a gentleman who loved humanity. He embraced people, accepted them as good, and never harbored ill-will toward anyone.
And I wonder now if he managed to live that way his entire life. I only had the pleasure of knowing him for the last third of his life. Maybe at age 60, he became incredibly wise and suddenly realized that the Beatles really knew what they were talking about with their love is all you need mantra. Or maybe he was clued in from the beginning and reaped the benefits his entire life! If so, how wonderful!
Recently, a series of events have left me disappointed. And I have been hurt. And on some level, I’d even say I’ve been wronged. (But that’s not very gracious talk, is it? Clearly, that’s the ice talking!)
So I’ve decided that I am going to work hard to live up to Maryann’s compliment. I am going to work hard to melt just a tiny bit of that rock hard piece of ice.
So I feel I should issue a public safety warning -and if you are handy with a hammer and a saw, you might want to build yourself a boat, just in case!