It’s been almost 6 months since my dad died, and although I have a lot of stories that I want and maybe even need to tell from that time, I guess I haven’t been quite read to tell them. It was the toughest time in my life so far, and there are a lot of days when I still feel like I haven’t quite processed it. I mean, I know that dad is gone, at least most of the time. I still get the urge to call or text him with some news or a funny story, and I still wait for the notification that he has liked something I have posted on Facebook, especially on the One Crazy Kid page. He was my biggest fan. It doesn’t happen often, and the instances when it does are getting farther and farther between, but I suspect that it might not ever stop completely. It’s ok, because to me it means he is still with me, at the front of my mind, somewhere that I know he can hear and see me. Those moments are like his voice in my head. Although I think that he might brush off this story I am about to tell you with an embarrassed shake of his head, it’s something that I feel needs to be shared. He would see it as no big deal, and wonder why I was telling it, but that is just who he was.
It’s funny. You never quite know how your actions might affect someone. At dad’s funeral reception, we decided to have an open mic after the eulogy had been read. Since his actual funeral had been a mass held in the Catholic Church, there wasn’t an opportunity for a eulogy or speeches there, so we decided to do all of that at the reception that followed. I honestly didn’t know what would come of it, or if many (or any) people would want to speak. It’s not exactly like getting up and giving a toast at a wedding, and people are emotional and sad and might not be willing to open themselves up like that. A couple of a Filipino ladies got up and said a few lovely words about my dad, and then something teally cool happened.
A man stepped up to the mic, someone that none of us had ever seen before. He introduced himself and I wondered, for a brief moment, if he might be at the wrong reception. Then he began to speak and something strange and beautiful and completely unexpected took place.
This gentleman, in a slightly awkward and uncomfortable manner, began to tell his story. He had met my dad many, many years ago when my dad was a surveyor for the city, and he was a car salesman. They frequented the same coffee shop every day, and because of his profession, this man stated that a lot of people didn’t want to talk to him or looked down on him. Keep in mind, I’m guessing that this was sometime in the 1980’s and a coffee shop where all the working class guys went to get an actual cup of coffee and maybe a sandwich. No lattes, nothing fancy. I can picture this coffee shop in my head, and if you think hard enough, I bet you can too. Formica tables, overhead fluorescent lighting, plastic or vinyl covered chairs. We’ve all been in them.
This man stated that he felt out of place and unpopular in this coffee shop, but my dad called him over to join them and sit at their table, and it didn’t matter what his job was, Dad treated him as a friend. He said Dad told him were all the same, and car salesman or not, he was welcome. He told us how grateful he was for my dad’s acceptance of him, his inclusion and his words of friendship. He said they made a big difference to him, and he has never forgotten them.
This small bit of kindness, shown to a man that my dad never mentioned or talked about, probably because he didn’t see it as any kind of thing, stuck out to him. It stuck out to him enough that some 30 years later, he felt the need to attend the funeral and reception of my dad. Not only that, he stood up in front of a room full of a couple hundred strangers and told this story, regardless of how uncomfortable it made him.
That he chose to share this story, something we would never otherwise have heard about, was such a gift to me and my family. My dad was an extremely kind hearted man, but to hear first hand how this simple kindness, something that I know he wouldn’t have thought anything of, affected this man, was amazing. Make no mistake, your actions can have long lasting effects on people, be it a simple kindness or a guest urge of friendship.
I didn’t get a chance to thank the man for sharing his story, but I wanted to share it with you because it has had such an impact on me. Kindness does matter, never forget that. The next time you are wondering if you should extend a hand in friendship, or a few kind words, do it. You might not know how much someone needs it, and what seems small to you may stick with them for the rest of their life.