I had to say goodbye to two wonderful friends this week. The longer I stay here, the harder it is to say goodbye. And this goodbye was particularly difficult because this couple returned to their home in Melbourne, Australia, and it’s very likely I will never see them again. Elder and Sister F. spent only six months here, but in that time they won my heart with their plain speaking, their patience, and their love. He is a 78-year old retired woodworking teacher who has the patience of Job, and she is a 75-year old plain-speaking Scottish descendant who has more skill with children than most professional teachers.
You don’t know these two. I understand that. But you know their type. A Scottish poet by the name of Robert William Service (how terrific would it be to carry THAT family name?) described them in a poem written long before these two were born:
How often do I wish I were
What people call a character;
A ripe and cherubic old chappie
Who lives to make his fellows happy;
With in his eyes a merry twinkle,
And round his lips a laughing wrinkle;
Who radiating hope and cheer
Grows kindlier with every year.
For this ideal let me strive,
And keep the lad in me alive;
Nor argument nor anger know,
But my own way serenely go;
The woes of men to understand,
Yet walk with humour hand in hand;
To love each day and wonder why
Folks are not so jocund as I.
So be you simple, decent, kind,
With gentle heart and quiet mind;
And if to righteous anger stung,
Restrain your temper and your tongue.
Let thought for others be your guide,
And patience triumph over pride . . .
With charity for those who err,
Live life so folks may say you were--
God bless your heart! --A Character
Fair winds and following seas, Elder and Sister F. I love you. Thank you for being Characters in my life. When I grow up, I want to be a Character.