My godfather died.
I don’t even know exactly when. I got an email this morning from his oldest daughter, saying he’d been not feeling well, was hospitalized for a short time in August and had died with her at his side in the hospital. She said that he hadn’t wanted a funeral, was cremated, and that the family was holding up well. He was 88 years old.
I can’t say I didn’t cry as I read about the passing of this gentle kind man who taught me how to hold and bottle feed baby goats when I was about 14 years old. I never heard him angry, never heard him cuss. He wore a flat top haircut and I can’t remember when he wasn’t clean shaven, hair cut neatly, dressed in khakis.
Eight children, plus me. I met the family when I was 12 years old. When the Catholic church baptized me, this family was presented to me as my godparents. They were kind, religious without being weird, had meal time prayers, Sunday school and church every week, gave me their hand-me-down clothes, and passed out large helpings of kindness always.
Entering their house meant sitting down at the long dining table and getting served something to eat or drink for it was assumed you had room for something. Entering their driveway always brought a feeling of peace and comfort – my troubles as a young adult melting miraculously as I drove down that little country lane leading to their backyard. They never asked about my divorce or my life with “an ever-changing roommate”, and I didn’t volunteer. They accepted me for me. If my life caused them angst, I’ve yet to hear a word of it.
I probably never exchanged more than ten sentences altogether with this family man in the last 41 years but I was always welcome in his home, spoken to with a kind voice, and he definitely had my respect.
Rest in peace, gentle kind sir. I might never have said it but in my own way, I loved you. You were a real man, dedicated to his family, working always for the better good of them all. The world is a better place for your having been a part of it.