With the holidays upon us, we start to think about the gifts we’ll give, as well as the gifts we’ll receive. I received a special gift this year, and his name is Ed. You see, the special gift he gave me was so much more than the small token of a “Garden of Weedin’” plaque he bestowed upon me after finding out I enjoy spending time in my garden. The gift he gave me was of himself…just for a very short while, but a gift nonetheless. He shared some things that moved me.
Let me start from the beginning, I work for a small newspaper that actually still uses youth carriers to deliver their papers. One of my jobs is to supervise these kids. They’re a great group and do a wonderful job of delivering in all kinds of weather…rain, sleet, snow, blizzards, floods, etc., with no complaint. Short of a disaster they’re out there all the time assuring their customers are well taken care of. Ed is one of those customers and has been for many, many years. He’s had 6 carriers in total. I know this, because recently Ed called our office to ask for the names of each of those carriers. Ever protective of all “my” kids, I called Ed to see why he needed that information. And this is what he told me…
He and his wife (now deceased), would get the paper and enjoyed reading it for many years. As his wife got older she developed Alzheimer’s, and even through her illness they continued the tradition of reading the paper. He spoke so highly of her and said they had both been Marines in WWII. She had won all kinds of awards over the years for all her great work, and I suspected he had too, although he never bragged about himself. You could tell he deeply loved and misses his lifelong companion. He was so saddened by the way Alzheimer’s stole so much from them both. So many precious memories. I told him that even if she didn’t remember that it was okay, because he remembered for the both of them. That all her memories had been tucked away safely, like you would wrap a treasured ornament from your tree in aging tissue paper to keep it safe year after year. Carefully stored and forgotten until you bring it out the following season. I thought, surely, they were locked away in there somewhere. He told me he would watch his beautiful wife wither away and ask God “why her, why my sweet wife”. And then he told me something, that from anyone else, I may have doubted. He said he heard the answer, and he’ll tell you God told him, “It’s not about her. This lesson was for you to learn.” His lesson was about compassion and caring. Sticking by when someone needs you the most. A lesson about pure love.
After his wife passed, Ed continued to enjoy getting our little local paper. It really meant a lot to him. I asked him why he wanted all of those carriers names, and he said because he truly appreciated that they all delivered it to him and his beloved wife so faithfully all those years. His voice softened a bit, and he went on to say, “I’m 90 now and my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. In fact, I don’t see well at all and I’m afraid I will have to give up the paper very soon. But before I do, I wanted to make sure I thanked each and every carrier that ever brought it to my house.”
I told him he was a very sweet man to think of them all. I spelled out all six names, repeating myself several times as he struggled to write them. He joked about not being able to clearly see what he wrote, so I told him to just write the names and I would pick them up myself and address them the rest of the way for him. He agreed and called me back when they were ready. I went to pick them up and he immediately invited me in for coffee. I told him I wished I had more time, but was in a hurry to run some errands. I hesitated a moment, but then stepped inside and although I didn’t have much time, I took a few moments so he could show me the many pictures hung on his wall of his family. Pictures of his wife, his grown children and their children. He clearly knew how blessed he was and was very proud of them all. When it came time to leave I gave him a small gift I had brought for him, I gently kissed his cheek and wished him a very Merry Christmas.
This gentle, kind, sweet man, his zest for life, his stories, his history, his smile and his laughter moved me so much, that I needed to write it down and always remember what one man taught me, in only a few short minutes, about how to live life. Always remember that sometimes the lessons really aren’t about you at all. Meeting Ed is one of my favorite gifts this year. A gift that should be shared! And so, this story of Ed is my gift to you. Always be kind, take time to hear a story, to learn a lesson about love…to connect to another human being.
A very Merry Christmas and may you all have as fulfilling a life as Ed!