Monday, March 10, 2008

Loving Frank

It will soon be two years since Frank’s spirit set itself free from his weary and worn body. Frank is (Yes! “is” for our spirits are eternal) my friend. We met in the early morning darkness, as I was delivering a newspaper to the lady across the street from his condominium. I was taking my customary care to toss the newspaper either close to the lady’s gate, or, when possible, over the gate. I had noticed that she sometimes didn’t pick the previous day’s paper up, as I delivered the current day’s. So I deduced that she had some physical limitation that made going out to the parking space sometimes-difficult… hence the ‘close to the gate’ ritual.

On the particular day when Frank and I met, I had completed the lady’s delivery and was backing my van out of the parking space when in the corner of my eye I saw movement. Here came an elderly gentleman, shuffling his feet with what was obviously some effort, and doing his best to, simultaneously, wave a “wait” message to me. So, I waited … and waited … and (well, you get the picture.) After what seemed a passable version of ‘forever’ he arrived at the window of the van.

When he had established his balance and reclaimed some semblance of normal breathing, he introduced himself and asked me for a favor. “That lady that you deliver the paper to is my daughter. She doesn’t read the paper, but has it delivered for me to read. I have, sometimes, had a difficult time getting out to pick the paper up. And, sometimes, you throw it over her gate and I can’t get to it. If you would just throw it out in her parking space, I can get to it there. I would really appreciate that.” Well, you can imagine how I felt. Here I had been laboring under the assumption that I was accommodating someone with physical limitations … when, in fact, I was creating an insurmountable hurdle for this very gracious gentleman.

From that day on, I pulled up into Frank’s parking space and threw his paper (a loving gift from his daughter) just as close to his back door as I could manage to. And while Frank and I never had the opportunity to visit in customary terms, we formed a bond of deep, quality mutual respect. We shared frequent waves and salutes when I made his delivery. He often made a special effort to be at or near his door when I came. And we had infrequent but rich occasions to exchange lingering handshakes flavored with verbal expressions of appreciation for each other. I had the opportunity to give Frank a few “I love you, My Friend.”s and he voiced his, more reserved, sentiments. I was given the gift of assuring this fine and gentle man that he was noticed … that he mattered … that he was admired … that he had worth … that he was loved. I will miss his presence. There is, still present, a “Frank shaped hole” in my world.

“So,” you ask “why do you tell me all of this?” I tell you, Dear Reader, because I am frequently presented with statements like “I’m just not like you … I can’t express myself to others the way that you do” or “I am just not comfortable with doing the things or saying the things that you do.” or, “People just won’t understand what I’m doing … or why … like they do with you.” And here is, for your reflection, an illustration of just how easy and simple and uncomplicated it can be for us to touch our world for Love. It’s like the words of the old song “You gotta have heart… there’s nothing to it but to do it” . That’s all, My Friend, simply listen … allow yourself to see … take the moment … take the moment … take the moment … (see there, you were already getting impatient with that illustrative repetition … GOTCHA! [chuckle])

Please believe me … you and I can make a difference in our individual little worlds … with Love and Willingness. You just wait. You will see. In tiny ways, life will become more enjoyable and internally (in your own private and intimately personal core) ... richly rewarding.

Trust me, OK? We Can Do This!

46 comments:

Classic Charm said...

What a lovely story. I am certainly trying to make a difference, even if it's little...thanks for the encouragement, and leadership.
Hugs,
Rose

John-Michael said...

Isn't it much more fun, being in this "Living and Loving" thing, with the knowledge that others are sharing your commitment! Thank you for encouraging me, Rose (and for the ever-welcome 'Hugs'.)

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Your friend was indeed blessed to have known you as I am sure you will agree that you were equally as blessed to have known him.

Being fortunate enough to experience our spirit cousins I found it particularly uplifting that you refer to your friend as still being with us.

Crystal xx

John-Michael said...

Yes Crystal, blessed all 'round, I am. I do enjoy living life ... in all of its aspects.

Beth said...

I feel as though my blog is akin to old fashion letter writing. I think blogs also relate well to the idea of pen pals.

The internet can certainly be used for good. Thanks for being part of the goodness of the internet.

CrazyCath said...

Good afternoon Friend!

I have saved the best until last. I have a routine now, of going through all the blogs I visit. Some days I finish with David's because it sends me all over, but today I started with his and I left the best one till last. The one I KNOW will make me think, reflect, act...

I so love the way you wrap up your answer to a question posed by David in yet another life story, leaving the answer in there for us to find yet telling us, screaming at us, the answer. You are a clever daddy!

I hope to get round to posting my thoughts on the subject later (this week?) but to suffice to say I agree that we do not say "I love you" enough and the world makes us suspicious of those that do, sadly. Our earlier "hiccup" (if I may call it that) being a prime example. My heart told me I had nothing to fear from your care, yet I feared it. Mad eh?

Having said that, I can give 'em out too, and as I have said to you before, I love you too dad!

Amy Y said...

Great post!
You are a wonderful person and I'm so glad to have come across you in this crazy internet land :)

nitebyrd said...

Not being "people person" I chose my friends with extra care. I do watch and observe all the time. This is a sweet reminder of friend shaped holes that are missing in my life.

Suldog said...

Isn't it fascinating how we can believe that we're helping someone when we're actually hindering another? Just goes to show that we can never be sure until we know the whole story.

Very nice, John-Michael. Thanks for sharing.

John-Michael said...

Oh, Beth, how precious is "old fashioned letter writing" to my very soul. I cling to my use of my sweet Waterman fountain pen and relish the tactile thrill of ink on fine linen paper stock. And ... pen pals ... what intimate and trusted link between faithful humans can compare to that which is held between 'pen pals?'

For you to mention my name in the company of such old and trusted stalwart forms of the writing tradition is an honor. And for You, Dear One, to consider what I try to do as 'good' ... well, Beth, I am complimented and offer my sincere "Thank you."

Lizzy in the Burbs said...

John-Michael,

You are so right! If we'd all just notice each other a bit more, it would be a nicer world, wouldn't it? People think nothing of flipping someone off at a traffic light, but do they use the same energy to say a simple "hello"? I'm sure Frank appreciated your kindness greatly!

Lizzy

John-Michael said...

My Darling and Precious Spirit-Daughter, Cath. From your heart to mine the "Dad" that you speak thrills and honors me.

I am so pleased that you are joining me in enhancing our world with declarations of our inspired and heart-felt "I love you"s. i have never regretted a single time that I have followed the leading of my inner-voice and made it known to someone that they have my respect and admiration, in the form of a "I love you." When my spirit leads, I know that the other person's heart is prepared. And I have never been disappointed or discouraged in following.

I lone You, Cath, Dad

John-Michael said...

'Tis my absolute pleasure, my SulDog friend. I am glad that you liked my bit ('cause I SURELY DID enjoy yours on your blog! ... fantastic!)

John-Michael said...

"Holes" that, for me, have the aching of their emptiness salved by the balm of fond recollections. I do hope that it is so for you, as well, NiteBird.

John-Michael said...

From a loving heart as generous and caring as yours, that is high praise, indeed, Amy Y. I thank you for your kindness.

John-Michael said...

I am so glad that I learned the "coping art" of allowing for everyone's "right to BE .... (stupid, rude, offensive, inconsiderate, WHATEVER) long ago. It's far more fun (for me) to say, to myself, "That's OK, Stupid, you have the God given and constitutionally guaranteed RIGHT to be S T U P I D !!" and laugh... than to waste a perfectly good finger gesture on them.

I then have the energy for the kindnesses that I REALLY do enjoy. Thank you Lizzy, for your encouragement.

Shrinky said...

We all have the gift to make a difference, most of us try to make that count for the good. I'm a strong believer in Karma, for every positive action you take, you always receive so much more in return.

You are so right John-Michael, even what may seem the simplest of action can mean such a great deal to someone else.

John-Michael said...

"Amen" Shrinky.

Jules~ said...

Sometimes I think in song. Today as I read this, I keep hearing the Beatles sing All You Need Is Love.

I love your story example and relationship encounters with Frank. No mater what age, situation, color, or gender...all people deserve respect and need relationships. You, I am positive, were a huge blessing and brightness in Frank's life.

John-Michael said...

Oh Jules!!!! You are BEAUTIFUL ... Just what the Heavens knew that I needed for this exact moment. (Just arrived back home [picked Baby Sister up from her work, delivered her home, and back to my cottage in the afternoon traffic madness]). I was less than enthusiastic about gathering my garbage bags with my landlady's and carrying the lot to the highway for tomorrows pick-up. But now!! ... I have the Beatles accompanying me in the chore. COOL!!

And, you are (of course) absolutely right. Frank and I had a unique and very special connection. His daughter told me, after his passing, how much he looked forward to our pre-dawn encounters. I was his only social contact. It was nice for us both.

Suzanne said...

What a great story. Sometimes when my life criss-crosses with another (just briefly, like in a check out line or in the airport) and I have a moment with that person, and then never see them again... it makes me sad sometimes. Sometimes I wonder where those people are, and how they are. I'm glad you made a sweet friend from such a situation.

John-Michael said...

Hi Suzane, and thank you for your perspective ... I too have had those "Oh, I don't want us to forever lose each other" moments. And I have found that a quick jotting down of my blog address at least leaves us both with a sense of the option to reconnect if we wish.

I am complimented that you stopped by and invested a moment of your post-5K self (Yes! I am proud of and impressed with your accomplishment. [big smile]

Hope to see you again soon!

joan said...

I came by to visit by way of Crazy Cath's blog and am glad I did. What a wonderful story. You never know in life how you can touch another person.

John-Michael said...

"Hello" to You, Joan! I am so pleased that you found your way here. I have, indeed, been blessed with many, many wonderful experiences and treasures in life and by Life's Author. It is a joy to be able to share some of them here and have others reap some of what has been so good for me.

(I am making note of your Email address from your profile [Travel Agent is something that I am in need of for planning my trip to the continent ... hope that that is OK ])

david mcmahon said...

Yes, you're right. We ALL make a difference.

John-Michael said...

There is beauty in that, don't you think, David?!

lime said...

here from david's. and yes, whatever we do in our own sphere of influence matters, especially to those who benefit from them. thanks for the gentle reminder.:)

John-Michael said...

Hello, Lime ... As you saw, I too appreciate David. And you are most welcome.

quilly said...

One person can make a difference and improve the world. I may not be able to make the world a safe and better place for everyone, but if I help those I can, I have done my part.

Your story would have been a great illustration for the devotion/lesson I shared with my women's group Sunday afternoon. I am bookmarking it for future reference. Thank you for loving your "neighbor".

Nicole P said...

Thank you for the beautiful story!

John-Michael said...

I am with you in this "do my part" thing with you, Quilly.

Glad that I can provide some encouragement.

John-Michael said...

You are quite welcome Nicole. My thanks to you for your visit.

Helena said...

Seeing this from another angle here- we might feel insignificant or not up to much, but we'll leave a space when we go.

And another thing- we need more people like you, to notice the spaces.

John-Michael said...

Oh, Helena!! How wonderful ... your "angle." I can imagine nothing more tragic than someone not recognizing the Space that they hold in the lives of others. Or the significance of the Space within that Others have made.

Wow! Thank you!

Daryl E said...

Most perfectly put. If all just take a moment now and then to breath and connect .. with ourselves and others this world would be a lot nicer.

David sent me.

John-Michael said...

Hello, again, Daryl E ... and thank you for this moment with me. I am grateful! (and grateful to David for his kindness.)

SandyCarlson said...

Thank you for this beautiful and important reminder that we can make a difference--even when we don't know it!

John-Michael said...

Thank you, Sandy (gosh! I love your smile! [profile]) I'm genuinely glad that you stopped by.

Vi said...

It's the little things people do that make things better for us in the long run. You truly are a special man. x

John-Michael said...

Thank you Vi.

And I consider you to be a special woman ... who I like!

Momma said...

John-Michael:

You've provided a wonderful illustration of how simple it is to show compassion to another human being, and how many opportunities we are given to do so. Thanks for the wonderful reminder and example.

Peace - D

John-Michael said...

It is SO easy, D, to allow myself to respond to an obvious opportunity (NOW!)... but it did take me a while to establish a comfortable and 'natural' rhythm to the whole deal. And worth every initial discomfort and awkward moment!

Thank you for your caring coment.

Just Joni said...

This post touched my heart John-Michael...you are a gentle, loving creature indeed and I for one thank you for your compassion and understanding...the human spirit can be so fragile and yet so easily uplifted.

do continue your goodness~

Joni

John-Michael said...

As you have just uplifted mine, Joni.

I thank you for your generous kindness.

Misty Dawn said...

My husband's aunt once said something about me that I took as a very huge compliment. She said "Misty makes friends with everyone. It's just how she is."

It used to bother me when I would get strange looks or people would whisper about me because I instinctively hug my friends when I see them, and hug them again when we are parting ways. I even hug friends of friends just because I've heard wonderful things about them and think they deserve recognition of being a wonderful person.

My husband has even been asked if it makes him jealous that I so freely give hugs and words of love. My husband said "Nope, it makes me smile, because that's just how my wife is."

So John Michael, if you should ever meet me in person - you can certainly expect a hug and to hear "I love you"... it's just how I am ;-)

John-Michael said...

Then you would have a very BIG smile on your face seeing me in the newspaper distribution warehouse in the pre-dawn hours, Misty. I don't just 'hug', I EMBRACE with manly gusto some of the roughest appearing characters that you can imagine. Kissing these guys (and the ladies ... much more tenderly and with gentility) on their tough cheek and telling them that I love them is something that has never been done there before my tenure. But, I can assure you without hesitation ... no one is more respected or treated with more dignity than myself. because they ALL know that John-Michael is true to his words and actions. When I say it, I mean it. And that is a rare commodity in that world. You would have a hoot!

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