Three Men

I wrote this on March 4, 1994. It was my maternal grandmother’s birthday, she would have been 119 years old on that day. She was a great lady and I loved her a lot.
This piece is important to me and when those old fears of not measuring up tell me to go quiet and isolate I sometimes think of it….and it helps me.

THREE MEN

Until yesterday I would have said there are two men in my life named Les. One is my brother in law married to my sister Carol and the father of Les Jr. who is my nephew and God son. I used to be jealous of and a bit in awe of my brother in law. After all he is an officer of a Fortune 500 company, strikingly handsome, an accomplished speaker, a former varsity athlete at a major university and he called my father by his first name. He was formidable and I also held a minor grudge against him because he had married my little sister.

His son, my godson, on the other hand I have always loved. Young children have forever been my favorite people and Les hasn’t yet crossed over into threatening manhood. If I hadn’t changed he would be fast approaching my field of resentment and the fear and jealousy would begin to fester. He is also strikingly handsome, fun to be around and incredibly unobtrusive. He is a great guy.

The other Les, the one I wouldn’t have remembered if you asked me how many men named Les were in my life, died yesterday and if it weren’t for him and many people like him I probably wouldn’t love the other two. I met him about 8 years ago in a low ceilinged, crowded, smoke filled, damp and dank church basement and hated him immediately. It was a Tuesday night discussion meeting and he sat with a group of guys who were always laughing and telling jokes. He was the oldest of the group and the ring leader and most of the people in the room seemed to respect and care about him. He was, therefore, the target of my jealousy and dislike. He was slim and bald, smoked a lot, had a raspy voice and a twinkle in his eye. He had, I came to realize, a sharp wit and great sense of humor and he enjoyed life, a feeling rare in me until I began to question why I disliked so many people instead of wondering what was wrong with me. Somewhere inside I knew I was cheating myself and that I was afraid of getting close enough to feel the rejection that was sure to come.

Over time Les and I developed a nice relationship. I came to love him and care about him although we differed in many, many areas. He was one of the people around whom I learned to stay away from disagreement over things like religion and anything based on opinion rather than fact. Today when people say things I disagree with I still want to set them straight but for the most part I no longer try. I don’t believe as I once did that a difference of opinion diminishes me. I still feel it but I don’t believe it. I know the feeling is a trick and it’s trying to get me to react angrily as it always did, to be defensive when you didn’t even know you were playing offense.

When I think about Les now I am sad and I cry but I am also incredibly grateful for having known him. Les and hundreds of others, not as prominent in my mind, have helped me to see that I was wrong about people. They really don’t exist for the sole purpose of making my life miserable. Actually when I seek their friendship and counsel and am open to them it seems they will do anything to help me see the light of love rather than the blind darkness of fear and resentment.

I see Les standing outside the door of that church basement holding court, telling jokes, waxing eloquent about his basketball prowess and caring and giving and being the Les I’ll always remember with tenderness and great respect.

When I’m around the two remaining Les’ in my life and realize how much I care about them I’ll think of the other Les and remember that if it wasn’t for him and hundreds of others I’d still be a frightened, resentful man with very little joy in my life. Thanks Les and God speed.

Posted January 26, 2009

3 Comments

Phil-
Thank you for this sensitive reflection. It is a gift to have such refined insight into
your heart and its motivation,
one for which surely you have paid the price of courage.It
helped me in some struggles I
am undergoing.
I have of late been enlightened enormously in these matters by
” A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle.
Much love to you and the family!
Paul

I relate still to many of those negative feelings and react still to them more often than I would like.

I am though on the right path for me.

Where’s Nana in this?

Love,

Duff

. Today when people say things I disagree with I still want to set them straight but for the most part I no longer try

Do you have a twin brother with the same name that I have been pals with for all these years??

Post a comment

(You may use HTML tags for style)