An old man once asked me how I became so strong in a world like this and so young. So, I told him when you experience as much pain and failure as I did you just become numb to it all. Although, that is the worst part of it, the lost sense of feeling. You want to cry but your body just will not allow it. Instead, it holds it in until it eventually fades back into your mind that it is all just a dream or an illusion. So, I then told the old man, if I were to speak to my younger self, I would tell them that you will get hurt but embrace it, feel it, for it is really the only thing that keeps you feeling human and connected with people. However, I could not complain to the old man for long of my regret. I chose this path. I wanted to be strong for my family and friends, and that was just what the gods or god had given me. Trial after trail I was tested in life, some even scarring me to the point my body became damaged physically, but as I made it out of every trial I leveled up in a sense. I told myself f it takes me to lose a part of my humanity to protect the ones that I love, then it was all worth it, for their joy and happiness mean everything to me. Not a lot of people would choose such a path, but someone has to do it right?
Yet, the old man still wished he could have had my strength when he was my age, and so I had to tell him something that would make him see the blessings he had. The things that I wish I could have.
“You have children, right?” I asked the old man.
“Yes, I do,” said the old man.
It was obvious by the smile on his face that he loved his children more than anything.
“I assume you have a wife as well,” I asked.
The old man’s smile then had gone from happy to sad. Unlike myself, he could not hold in what he was feeling. He just broke down in a burst full of tears. Sadly, I could not feel any of what he was feeling but I still understood it. I felt sad for him. The old man had lost someone close to him, yet I had not experienced that sort of feeling at all, for all of my loved ones were still very much alive. Although, I know I would lose them someday but that again was another part of myself I had closed off. I honestly do not know how I will feel when that day comes, just rather enjoy what have, you know, while its still here.
“She died 11 years ago… She died by cancer… But damn it still feels like she was only gone yesterday. The kids and I do not really talk much about it. Just too painful you know. She really was the light of this family,” said the old man.
I then sat down on the bench where the old man sat.
“I understand, “I told him. “How long were you married?”
“47 years and still counting. Still got the ring,” said the old man, holding his ring finger up to the skies.
The ring was almost meshed into the old man’s finger. It was obvious that he had never taken it off. I envied him. To have someone stand by your side for so long really was a blessing, even the pictures of his children was another blessing of its own and they were married with children now. The old man might have not had my strength but at he was blessed with a house that was not broken. On the contrary, even a broken home can still find its blessings it seems.
It was then the old man turned and asked me something, that made me see my blessings no matter how much I felt that I did not have any.
“You’re a hero you know. A true born hero. It did not take me long to se that light in your eyes to know who and what you are. You know my mother told me a long time ago, that some of us are born to enjoy the fruits of this life, while others are born to be the heroes, to ensure that the ones born to enjoy the fruits of life can. My mother called these people fallen angels,” said the old man.
“You mean like lucifer?” I asked.
“No, not at all,” the old man chortled. “You are angels that were sent to this planet intentionally. I believe some of your generation call them earth angels. But I must say what you people do is truly a hero’s sacrifice. I don’t believe I could ever risk being what you are knowing what I have and what I had,” said the old man.
“Well, I don’t disagree with you there. It feels like a prison sometimes being in my shoes but as long as everyone else is happy, that’s all that matters,” I said.
The old man then turned to me and grabbed my hand sternly. His hands were warm and felt as rough as sandpaper. It was easy to say that he was not a pencil pusher back in his day but a man that worked with his hands a lot and I am not talking with computers. Maybe construction, lumber, something like that.
“It does matter son, it always matters. So, what will make you happy?” the old man asked.
“Helping my family and friends is enough to make me happy,” I said.
“So, are you only helping them for your own happiness?” asked the old man.
“No, its not like…”
“You see what I just did there,” said the old man, with a child-like smile. “I know your intentions to help your family and friends is good, but me and you both know that that isn’t what makes you happy. At least, not completely. You are still missing something but have been through so many challenges in this life you have forgotten how to open up to it. Son, your life does not have to be a complete sacrifice. I know you have done enough already. So, why not start doing something for you for a change?” asked the old man.
I could feel tears building around my eye lids. I do not know what was happening but the last time I felt it was when I was child. The sense of feeling scared and worried.
“I can’t,” I sobbed.
The old man then put his arms around me.
“Oh, but you can. You just need to let it all go. You have done enough. They will be fine. You have given them all the strength to fight on their own. Believe in them as they believe in you, and when they call you will be ready, but until then just let it all go son. Live your life before it is too late. Find a nice woman or man, whatever you prefer. Have some kids, raise them to be just as strong as you or better. Your mission is done.”
Before I even realized it, I was crying into my hands, with snot coming from nose, dripping onto the leafy ground. Was this what humanity felt like? It had been so long I had completely forgotten the feeling. I looked back up with my eyes still watery to ask the old man more questions, but he was gone. I shouted for him for at least 5 minutes but all I could hear was my own echo.
I kept pacing around the bench trying to contemplate what it all meant or what just happened, but nothing came to mind. Was the old man even an old man? Was he a god or was it just the so-called old wisdom that I had been hearing so many people talk about, but then something surprisingly changed in that moment.
“Excuse me, but do you mind if I sit here,” said a woman.
She was gorgeous. Her eyes were chocolate brown but when the sun hit them, they turned to gold. Around her wrist were these beads that looked like the ones my mother had given me. She sat down and then pulled out a book by Neil Gaiman called Anansi Boys. It was one of my favorite books and one of my favorite authors.
“Well, are you going to keep staring down at my book or ask me my name? then again, maybe should I be calling the cops,” said the woman.
“No, I mean, please don’t call the cops. I did not mean to come off as such a pervert. I just well saw that book you were reading, it’s a great read!” I said, maybe too excitingly.
The woman then closed her book and chuckled.
“Whoa! Easy their cowboy. I was just missing with ya. The name is Marie Window, and yours?” she asked, still chuckling.
She had a great smile. It was enough to put a man in trance.
“My names Chase, Chase Bowie,” I said.
“You mean like David Bowie, the singer,” she laughed.
I could tell at this point the woman, I mean, Marie, had a huge sense of humor, but I loved every bit up.
“Yeah, something like that,” I replied. “Hey, I know this is super random but did you by chance see an old man walking around here. He had this brown coat and cane,” I asked.
“Well, I mean, you just pretty much described every old man that walks around here,” said Marie, with a smirk on her face. This time she was trying to be respectful and not laugh at me or the situation. Little did she know I did not mind.
“Say, I know we don’t know each other much but there is a really great bookstore down the street, and you seem like the book worm type. So, do you want to come with? You seem like you could use a little something to get your mind off things. Don’t mean to bribe you but I got doughnuts to,” said Marie.
We both smiled at each other. Our connection was how do they say it? Electrifying.
I had gone with Marie and the rest was history after that. We had gotten married 5 years later, and 2 years later had 2 kids who we named Pricilla and Ox. I know they are random names, but the lady chose them not me.
One day I came outside with Ox to play catch, and yes, fathers still do that with their sons. At least I do. Continuing on, as I was outside with Ox I looked up to the sky and said thank you. I guess I had gotten my reward for my sacrifices after all.
I looked towards Ox and about a mile behind him would be that same old man I had seen 14 years ago. We both nodded to each other and then he would be gone again, but whatever the old man went I knew he was back in his wife’s arms. As much as I played the hero for everyone else in my life, little did the old man know that he was my hero.
I guess the moral to the story is that as much as we all wish that we could have each other’s lives it is inevitable; you will experience loss and love, but at the end things always comeback full circle. So, why worry. I can only hope that I can teach my kids this, but they will find their own way I know. They have their mothers’ humor, and they have my heart.
Thank you for your time and reading, hope you enjoyed 🙂