Today the sky is overcast, in somber mood, as if marking the moment of grief and punctuating the loss of a friend. I have attended so many wakes, and buried so many loved ones, but this one affected me in measures I cannot completely understand. I knew him albeit so briefly, and mingled with him during the short time I was at the Office of the incumbent Mayor of this town. He was a man of dignity, befitting the position he has held as former Mayor of the town.
The dignity comes not from regal bearing or posture, but from the self assured stance of one who has been there. At my age, I like to think I know mostly everything, and I have dealt with so many personalities in my comparatively colorful life. But it was humbling getting a crash course on human relations from him. He knew what to say and when to say it. He had the knack for using the proper word, but I especially admire the way he subsconsciously held himself from saying what I would have instantly blurted out with righteous indignation or chastisement. I can see maturity in action, and it was fascinating hearing him talk about things. We had long intellectual discussions, and I looked at those conversations as his way of saying he respected me. I am glad I made it evident to him that we have mutual respect and admiration for each other. I would have loved him enough for the respect he gave me, but I loved him more for the way he talked with the people he knew from a long time.
Loyalty is a big thing in my personal dictionary, and seeing his unbridled loyalty to old friends is so captivating. I also admire deeply the way he talks with the downtrodden and the elderly poor who frequent the municipal hall. Other people would probably call it political skills, but I see it as a genuine display of the love that is abundantly inside him. I am inclined to think I am gifted with the ability to read character, and in him I read an innate difficulty to say “no” to the needy. I already heard from him that he considers himself retired from politics, and this tells me his attitude towards the less fortunate sector of the community is pure, unadulterated love and concern. In the movie The Blind Side, the character of Sandra Bullock embraced what is called the “popcorn principle”. The same principle is clearly manifested in his attitude towards the poor. We talked about it informally, and we both recognized that we cannot help all the poor people in the world, but we can make a difference in the lives of the poor people that “pops up” in our face.
I cry for his passing, but inwardly I long for the same passion and fulfillment of character that was his when he was with us. But there is comfort in knowing I was honored to see beyond what most people see in my dear departed friend and mentor. I will always reflect with regret for losing a beautiful soul, but for the wisdom I gained from him I shall be eternally grateful.
By: Fred Pascual