Despite a great deal of optimism as the New Year approached, 2014 has, thus far, turned out to a rather brutal year in terms of weather and geopolitical strive while the list of good people, who have died, keeps growing. Among them is a man who helped make the world a better place through kindness and generosity.
My Great Uncle Bernie was not a wild man in the least bit, though he was guilty of letting the children in his life basically do as they pleased. He was a kind, giving, and truly selfless person who was motivated by doing for others. There were many times when people took advantage of his good nature, yet he was never indignant toward those who did him wrong. He never made others feel as though they were wrong for being themselves.
When he did good, he never expected anything in return. In fact, he never wanted anyone to do anything for him. He was even chopping his own firewood until a few years before his death when the gas company told he had to remove his woodstove. Meanwhile, he always had a big smile on his face and his heart was always free of malice, greed, and self-righteous pride. He was someone who inspired others to be better, by example alone. In many ways, he was wrong for this world, but it is sure a better place thanks to him being part of it. That cannot honestly be said about most people.
He was a slender man who loved burnt hotdogs, root beer floats, and small diner donuts that he often ate with days-old coffee. A few years before he died, he told me his career as a trucker forced him into the habit of eating strange combinations of food, including his tendency to substitute the stock in his soup with any number of horrid ingredients. Apparently, he was also nauseated by the idea of eating chicken due to the fact that he grew up on an egg and potato farm, even though he always seemed to be eating a chicken sandwich. If not that, he was munching on the remaining chicken nuggets, French fries, or hamburger of a kid’s meal he had bought for a grandchild, nephew, or niece. (Obviously, you have to buy the entire meal to get the toy.)
He was a humble man born on the Fourth of July who saw much of America, yet never really concerned himself with politics or gossip. If he saw his neighbors, it was either to visit them or to help them, if he could. He rolled with the punches, even when that meant taking it on the chin. He didn’t have the best paying job, his small horse farm wasn’t the nicest, and his car was never new, because everyone kept borrowing and wrecking them, in his words. That said, he worked hard and long for what he had while he shared everything he had with everyone in his life. Perhaps, he would have liked more and wished others would do better, but he was someone who thoroughly valued the amaterial aspects of life. In short, he is someone worth respecting, he was someone worth knowing, and he will always be someone worth remembering.