Sunday, August 21, 2011

A man named Sam...

I drive up and down Lenox Road in Buckhead several times a day.  I almost always get caught at that same Peachtree Street light; it's relentless.  It is at that intersection that my mind often wonders to a distinct memory I shared with Tony there.

It was about a man named Sam.

Sam was one of the men Tony helped through a program at Buckhead Church, called MoneyWise.  It assists folks by providing a mentor who walks alongside them as they journey toward financial health.  With my husband being "Mr. Finance" himself, this was the ministry he absolutely loved.

He loved helping folks like Sam.

Now I won't share the details of his story; I will say that God used Tony to very clearly change the trajectory of Sam's life, a life of restored relationships, restored dignity, restored hope.  Yet, Tony was more than a mentor to this man who was twice Tony's age; he was a friend.

Just after Tony and I were engaged, Sam wanted to meet his fiance.  We met him at Buckhead Church for the early service, though we normally attended North Point.  I'll never forget him standing on the corner at Tower Place.  He embraced me with a hug and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. What a sweet moment realizing that this man was forever impacted by my Tony.

As we left Buckhead Church that day, we offered to give Sam a ride; he didn't own a car.  He politely declined.  As we sat at the intersection of Lenox Road and Peachtree Street on our way home, Tony told me that Sam walked over a mile each way to church every Sunday, up and down Lenox Road.  I have never forgotten that.

That's the last time I saw Sam; Tony continued the relationship.  Fast forward to the night we returned home from our honeymoon; Tony and I were happily opening the presents from the wedding.  We got to the final one, a book.  We opened the cover, and there was a note from Sam.  We scratched our heads, wondering how on earth this present got all the way to our wedding venue over an hour outside Atlanta.  We didn't see Sam at the wedding.  Tony called Sam to thank him; it turns out that Sam had borrowed a friend's car to drop off the gift the day before the wedding just to make sure it got to us in time.

Yet again, Tony and I were so deeply touched.

Time marched on; I really don't know the last time Tony and Sam saw each other. 

As I sat at that same red light last week, I felt I needed to try to reach out to Sam; I had no idea whether he even knew what had happened to Tony.  I tracked down his email, sent him a brief message, and wondered if it would actually reach him.

It did.

The very next day Sam dropped by Buckhead Church to see me.  I gave him a big hug; we sat down to talk.  I looked into the tear-filled eyes of a now 70 year old man, now my friend too, and I listened as he relayed the impact Tony had on him, how he was eternally grateful for his friend and his brother.  He was overcome by grief, mixed with gratitude; he was so very concerned for me too.  I honestly don't know how I was able to hold my emotions together, yet I was overwhelmed by a sense of inspiration.  I walked away so very proud of my husband;  I told myself that is exactly how I want to be remembered after I have left this earth. That's the influence and legacy I want to leave behind.

I ugly-cried all the way home; you know, those deep sobs that ruin your eye makeup.  I miss my husband. Still, I'm so very glad to have found another connection to him at Buckhead Church.

Dearly loved, friend of Sam's,

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ralphy and Me

I grew up with a dog named Tiger.  Yes, I gave her that name!  Turns out I'm allergic to dogs.  I really never thought I'd have another one.

I recall one of my early grief counseling sessions just months after Tony's passing where my counselor suggested I get a pet just so I've have something to hold, to snuggle with, something living and breathing to bring me comfort.  I bluntly cut her off by telling her I was allergic to pet dander.  She instead suggested I start holding babies at church.  Well, those of you who read my post a few months back know that I caught a cold that turned into pneumonia from the one time I did that.

No pets, no babies for me.

Months passed by; I slowly adjusted to living by myself in my condo.  Sure I loved where I lived, but most days I hated coming home to an empty place every day at 5.  It was as if I lived for the 9 to 5 where I could be at work (a place I just love!); it was the 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. that was so hard to face.

So I began to entertain the idea of getting a hypo-allergenic dog.  I had a couple of friends who have yorkies, and after looking at every type of dog I could have, a yorkie was the only breed I wanted.

I was hooked.  But I wasn't convinced.

I pondered and I researched and I asked lots of questions to my dog owner friends.  I even decided on a name...Ralphy.  It comes from my all-time favorite movie, A Christmas Story.

And finally, I jumped right in.  I met my puppy at 4 weeks old; she hales from deep South Georgia.  As I held her in my arms, she peed on me.  I was smitten.

Anticipation grew over the next 3 weeks as I literally had a countdown going at work.  I got everything she could possibly need, all decked out in pink, from a monogrammed bag to loads of toys.  On July 15, mom and I made the drive down South to get her.  She was terrified; in some ways, so was I.  She weighed a whopping 1 pound, 9 ounces.

And I instantly fell in love.  How could something so tiny, so fragile, provide so much joy, so much love?

With a sweet face like this, how could she not?

No amount of peeing the floor, biting my toes, whining and chewing could cause me to love her any less.

She's my puppy, my Ralphy.  And I've asked the Lord to use her in my life to teach me more about Him.

Dearly loved, puppy owner,