Many of you know (and many more do not) that my dad died a couple of years ago. He and I were very close, and his passing had a tremendous impact on my life in more ways than I have time or space to go into here.
One of those ways, however, has proven an unexpected blessing. You see, when my father died, I didn’t just inherit his truck, his favorite rug and his cantankerous attitude.
I also inherited his friend Sam (that isn’t his real name, but it will do, especially for those who get the reference).
Sam called me after Dad died, just to make sure I was doing okay. Sam was grieving too, and I think it helped him to talk to me – at least, I told myself so. It was hard to talk about Dad to anyone, especially to Sam, because I didn’t know him very well and my own grief almost drowned me. To Sam, I was a connection to my father, and I knew he needed to talk to me.
What I didn’t realize was that I needed to talk to him too.
My father was not well in his last days. He deteriorated mentally and physically, though not enough to need constant care. I don’t know whether he anticipated his fatal heart attack (he’d never had heart problems before), but a few weeks before he died we talked on the phone and he said something prophetic. “If I’m gone,” he said, “talk to Sam.”
In the beginning, I talked to Sam because Dad told me to. He called me every few days at first, then every few weeks, and now about once a quarter – just to check in and make sure I am “doing okay.” I still do not know him all that well, and I’m not sure I would recognize him on the street unless he spoke, but Sam has wisdom that never ceases to surprise me. My father cared for Sam, and I have come to care for him very much myself.
Sam calls when I didn’t even know I needed him to. He is happy to hear my voice. He remembers my writing and never forgets to ask how it’s coming along.
Sam reminds me that life is about the connections we make with others, and our legacy is in the way they remember us.
This morning he called to remind me that we should take life “one now at a time.” Not one day – one now. He’s right about that, too. I do not have tomorrow, and even this morning is already gone, but I have now and I’m going to live in it today.
Thank you, Sam.