Posted by: sistermom1 | April 21, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Two Great Men

Over the past 6 weeks, two men who  have been a significant part of my life for the past 25 years (in addition to my father and my husband!) passed away.  They were two very unique men, who made a huge positive contribution to many peoples’ lives, including my own.

“J” was a wonderful man, someone who would not naturally be a friend of mine.  He was an older white man from North Carolina —  an old-fashioned southerner who wore blue handy-man pants and had a large key ring on his waist.  The first time I saw “J”, I completely dismissed his wardrobe, old-school ways and his country drawl.  I really did not have a broad enough life to appreciate his energy and his home-grown wisdom.  As I think of him now, what warms my heart is his deep understanding of peoples’ lives and their ability and/or willingness to change.  One thing that he would say painted a real picture for me — “If you live in an outhouse long enough, you stop smelling it”.  This phrase would always remind me that I don’t always see my need to change.  I would remember this phrase whenever I would be stuck in my own comfort zone – and remember that to change even a little brings fresh air into my life.

The other man also passed away a few weeks ago.  “A”  looked dramatically different that “J”, but in reality “A” and “J” worked closely together to help a wide range of people begin and continue their Buddhist practices.  “A” was a dignified and respected physician, originally from the Caribbean, with a wonderful way of moving through the world.  He had a more formal style than “J”, but together they made a wonderful if unusual team.  They could encourage and inspire even the most taciturn, uncooperative person to chant a little more and change their life.

These  two people have deeply inspired me over the past 25 years.  Through them I learned not to be swayed by anyone’s outer appearance — but to take time and experience each person without overlapping my own expectations over them.  Both of these men helped me learn how each of us has a Buddha nature — that each of us has a special and unique mission that we are here to fulfill, and that we each better get moving getting it done, cause we are the only one who can get it done.

Thank you “A” and “J” for the wonderful lessons you both taught me.  I am a different person because of both of your influence.  I will miss you both, although I know that your spirits remain here with us.  Even though I did not see you often, the examples of your lives will stay with me for the rest of my life — leaving me open to the experience of each person’s life — and my own.

When I think about the impact of their lives on me – and so many other people throughout the world — I am reminded of these words shared by Daisaku Ikeda about the Buddhist view of death:

“ In the Buddhist view, the bonds that link people are not a matter of this lifetime alone.  And because those who have died in a sense live on within us, our happiness is naturally  shared with those who have passed away.  So, the most important thing is for those of us who are alive at this moment to live with hope and strive to become happy.  By becoming happy ourselves, we can send invisible ‘waves’ of happiness to those who have passed away.  But if we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by sorrow, the deceased will feel this sorrow too, as we are always together, inseparable.”

So, thank you “A” and “J”, for completing this stage of your mission so admirably.  We are always together with you, and I hope to be a reflection of your wonderful examples of living lives of  value and dignity.

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