One journalist's musings about the beautiful, bizarre world in which we live
I had an interview with a particularly gentle old soul today.
This fellow, with literally sparkling green eyes, spoke slowly and deliberately. Wrinkled with age, he had a warm hand to shake. He had light skin with the remnants of years of tan and burn — similar to the skin of my Pappy, a man born in Barbados whose ancestors hailed from Europe generations upon generations ago.
He told me intimate details of his life with just a few simple questions. It’s humbling, how willing most people are to give away their stories when they stumble upon someone willing to pick up the gems.
He spoke of his family — wife, children, grandchildren — and how love and familial bond holds them together. He discussed his time in Canada, which began when he moved to Edmonton from Lebanon when he was little older than 20, and how he worked his way to Lac La Biche.
He proceeded to impart wisdom upon me, mentioning how much power I had because I can write and manipulate the English language (indeed), how hard work and honesty are the keys to success in life (and how), and that I should start thinking about getting married and having kids (HA!).
The kind old gentleman said his life was not in the success of his business or the size of his house. It was in the love he imparted, and the goodness he did in the eyes of his god. His god, he said, is the same ‘other’ power as everyone else’s. We’re no different, he said, despite colour, race, religion, gender — all the artificial barriers we people put up.
“We’re all the same,” he said.
He spoke of small towns, and the familiarity within them.
“In a city, you live there 20 years, 30 years — you’re lucky if your neighbour ever says hello to you,” he said. “If you live in a small town, you live like a family.”
It made me think of my blood family —Brunjeses, Allens and others — spread across the globe, so far far away… But I went further. I thought of my “Westlock family,” the Bellows. My partner’s family (I suppose you could call them “the in-laws”). My rag-tag bunch of buddies in Ottawa; my Barrie friends I grew up with far and wide. The synagogue in Victoria, where I kept sane by babysitting Saturday mornings, hanging out with kids and fathers who’d prefer to play than pray. Tzevet on Gabriola at Camp Miriam. Others.
“We’re all brothers and sisters,” he said, pointing at himself and me.