That’s what he whispered softly to me…
“You’re a good man…”
“I feel the same way about you.”, I replied.
Everyone who met him loved him, instantly. He was the guy you could always call on when you needed a hand; he’d drop everything to help.
He spent his earning days working on appliances, had his own truck. He was the millionaire next door. No airs about his quiet wealth, no ego – he liked the simple things. He was a man’s man. He could talk football & hockey and then charm any woman in the room, slipping into his native french dialect at-will. And now he was lying on a couch gently slipping in and out of sleep, in the last days of his almost year-long battle with lung cancer.
We met about 8 years ago — he’d just started dating a woman I adore — who was also a long time client. They’d both lived in the same neighborhood for years as widowers, having both lost their first loves. Then one day, shortly after my client had retired, someone on one block talked to a person on another block and they all decided these two should meet. It was amazing — how did this not happen sooner?… So much in common, so much fun & laughter. He showered her everyday with little notes and tokens of his affection. She was in love.
They got married, she sold her house & moved in. They made their new home together. They were both in their 60′s and been given another shot at love & neither held back. They travelled to places each of them had dreamed of seeing… taking thousands of smiling pictures. They drove around town with the top down on their convertible, each of them glowing like school kids.
I used to joke that he was making the rest of us husbands look bad, because even after the honeymoon of matrimony was already long over for most — he was still sneaking daily surprises to his lovely. Then his cough kept getting worse — the doctor said it was stage 4. They decided against chemo. They decided to live & love as much as they could while they could.
I sat there with him, looking over pictures in the family album. We didn’t talk about the market or money — he knew their finances were in order, I could tell he was at peace with things. It was humbling to think I’d become important enough to him to be on the short-list of people invited to come say good-bye. He thanked me for being a good steward of his wealth, which, I know, probably sounds cheesy to some on the back of those Morgan Stanley commercials from long ago.
I thanked him too. In the end I thanked him most for his good example in love. He taught me to be more loving to my wife — to write notes to her a bit more often & say how thankful I was for her… he smiled.
A long time ago someone told me a quote that stuck with me to this day — “Have the courage to live. Anyone can die.” And, this courageous man did Live, fully. I hugged him, “Goodbye my friend. It’s been an honor…”