A Gentleman Sustained by Faith
A charmed life of spiritual enchantment brings peace
A good friend notified me a few days ago that his wife, bedridden, had reached the point where she requires at-home hospice care.
He brought me the news in such a way as to discourage me from feeling at all sad about it. I have known him for many years and have grown closer to him in the last few. We first interacted in the mid-1990s when we both prominently opposed a statewide ballot initiative whose passage curtailed the livelihoods of commercial fishermen. We are separated by 20 or so years in age, and I have always enjoyed his habit of calling me Young Warrior.
I will refer to him here as Onesimus, which was the first name of his ancestor who fought in the American Revolution.
Onesimus once encountered an unaccompanied young woman and her dog at an exit ramp along I-10 in Jacksonville. Her clothes were tattered, and she held a sign that read, “I’m Ugly and I’m Broke.” Onesimus asked her if she would like a sandwich and a can of soda. Softly, she said, “Yes.”
Onesimus drove to a gas station close by, bought the items and added a $10 bill to a bag containing the biggest sandwich he could find and a Coke. He returned to the exit ramp and extended the bag to the woman and told her, “You are not ugly, and you are not totally broke anymore.”
“Thank you so very much,” she said.
“No, thank you very much, and may God bless you.”
Resuming his progress on the interstate, Onesimus struggled to bring sobs under control. He is a man who truly believes in and has lived the message of Matthew 25: “Whatever you do for the least of my children, you do unto me.”
Onesimus is a deeply religious man but never outwardly so. He is not a missionary or a proselytizer. He is an example. His faith is critically important to him now. He is among the least judgmental and most inclusive people I know.
People, it is said, are the inventors of the negative and of fences. Implied in yes is no. Light is defined by darkness. I think about the steadily positive Onesimus each morning when I encounter black-bellied whistling ducks while running.
They are new to North Florida having expanded their range from Mexico and the Caribbean. They experienced no hassles at the border. In nature, there are no fences, and Onesimus isn’t much given to them either.
“Dear Borny,” Onesimus began:
“My girlfriend of 71 years and wife of 67 years will be part of the loving family of hospice starting Monday. There is nothing imminent about getting this special care, but Mindy is in bed full time, and the doctors said she will not be getting any better. She is bright and funny, and she is still the queen. (And definitely still my boss.) We hope and pray to keep her happy and comfortable for a long time.
“We had five of our 17 wonderful grandchildren over yesterday. Our house felt like it did during the years when they were growing up. We will savor many more days like that for as long as possible. Our home is open, for that is where Mindy will be.
“We are spiritually enchanted and know we are on God’s journey. We know there is a better place beyond where we are today. Our faith is strong and soothing.
“May all of our family and friends have joy and happiness in your lives. Mindy and I are in a comfortable place on our voyage. Thanks be to God.
“Please keep my princess in your prayers.”
What a kind and real and humble and strong role model Onesimus has been for his children and grandchildren. What a person so worth emulating he has been to me.