Cyndi Lauper was on the radio in the kitchen singing about sad eyes and true colors.
I laughed as I walked out of the kitchen and into the dining area of my part time job. I was laughing at myself.
You see, I knew the song, I knew the singer and all my life I’ve never given it or her any thought. Sure I had girlfriends who liked her music but back then, as a middle teen filled with anger, angst and a general skeptical outlook for my friends, family, government and life overall… well, any pop-music was too “feely” for me. For me, there was no hope, no help from others and no bright side to anything.
I’ve grown older since then and maybe, just maybe, a bit wiser.
Still I laughed at myself for not realizing what a great voice Cyndi has and not thinking twice about the lyrics of the song.
I approached a new table, an elderly couple who I’ve waited on before. We said our pleasantries and then the man says to me “I was talking to someone the other day who knows you.”
“Really? I hope they were nice.” I replied with good humor.
“Oh yes, she knows you well… NAME REDACTED.”
“Ah yes, I’ve known her for thirty years.”
“Sad news about her husband, we were in high school together and I even hung out with him when he worked for NAME REDACTED.”
A lump formed in my throat. My hands began to tremble. The floor beneath my feet felt soft and squishy. “Uh, yeah. George was a good man. I was very close to him.” I stammered trying to think of any excuse to leave this table.
You see, I thought I was okay with Georges death. I thought I had put those pains to rest. I thought I was okay.
I thought wrong.
My mind filled with memories of how he taught me not just engine machine skills but life skills that most people develop by the time they’re fifteen. I didn’t get that. I was too hard headed as a youth. Too filled with my own perspective of right and wrong. Too stuck in my own adolescent pain to listen to anyone.
When I met George, he didn’t care about any of that. Not my past. Not my angst. Not my skepticism. Not even my fear of failure. He just cared I was willing to learn and do the best I could do.
I tried my best to not disappoint him.
“Uh, yeah, what would you two like to drink?” I asked as I felt tears welling behind my eyes.
They ordered and I walked away quickly. Stopped in the bathroom, splashed water on my face and tried to stop sweating. That’s when the lyrics of Cyndi Laupers’ song hit me hard. The song that’d made me laugh not moments ago.
Not because George had ever said any words like the lyrics to me. Instead, he’d shown me the lyrics in action. Over time. Thirty years time. He showed me his true colors and in doing so, he passed those on to me.
Through painful, endless conversations he taught me how to be a man, a husband and a father.
Through his actions as a provider he taught me how to put aside my physical pain and power through so my family’s needs will be met.
Through his patience with me and everyone around him he taught me how to be patient with myself, my co-workers, my friends and my family.
He taught me so much and I never thanked him for it and for that, I feel like the shitiest person in the world. I’m sure he knows how grateful I am and I’m sure he never really expected a thank you from me. After all, that’s the kind of man he was.
I don’t think I’ll ever get over this loss right now. I don’t know how I can. I lost a friend and mentor. It’s been months and I thought all this emotional mess was over but it isn’t. After all, even from the grave George is showing me his True Colors.
Have a great week.