Today at the hospital, I was scheduled to see a patient prior to his upcoming surgery. As soon as I entered, I see this short slightly overweight man smiling and sipping coffee. Perhaps 70 years old. I'll call him Mr. G. It so happened that my schedule was light today and I had some time to connect with him, as she started sharing some stories from his life.
When he was 16 years old he told his mother, "Mom, I am never going to rent and I will buy my first house." He found Mr. C, who had a house to sell and decided buy the house from him. When he asked to visit the bank for a blank, Mr.C looked at him and said, "You're 16, you can't sign any papers. But tell you what -- you live in that house, pay me 35 bucks every month and we'll sign the papers when you're 21." He did that, and never missed his payment. Mr.C was so proud of him that he sold another house to him as well.
Then he began to share more. He once bought a house that needs plumbing and electricity. He found a white man, a contractor. He went to him and said, "I need your help. Can you teach me how to do plumbing and electricity in my house?" The contractor looked at him and said, "I will not help Mexicans. Go away." He returned to him 3 times and the last time the contractor said, "Go away, otherwise I'll get my rifle and shoot you." This time Mr G. got angry and said, "Look you are growing old. I am young. You will need my help some day and I will help you." One day, as he was passing by the contractor's house, he saw the contractor struggling to move a refrigerator. Mr. G went and helped him move the refrigerator and many more thing subsequently. He told the contractor, "See, working together is always better!" They started a friendship -- and sure enough, the contractor taught him about plumbing and electricity. A few years later, the contractor died. Mr. G received a call from the contractor's lawyer: "You are mentioned in his will." The contractor left him $18,000!
He once had a Russian lady, in her 80s, as his neighbor. One day, Mr. G's kids threw a ball into this lady's yard. She saw that and told her dog to rip the ball, which the dog did. Mr. G went over and asked, "Why did you tell your dog to rip my kids' ball?" She looks at him, mumbles "I hate Mexicans" and walked away . That day Mr.G told his mom, "Mom, you watch. This lady is going to be my best friend." He started reaching out to her. He would yell and tell her, 'I am going to take your trash out.' He started getting groceries for her and did many small things. This lady lived very frugally and would always say she had no money. When she died, Mr. G received another call inviting him to the reading of her will. He was the only Mexican among many Russian people. Her sisters asked his name, and upon finding out she said, "Ah, yes. We remember the name. She liked you very much." He later found out that she left him 12.5% of her 7 million dollar estate!
Then he shared his philosophy of life with me: "I'm Christian and I always practice what is taught in the Bible. And the Bible says, if some one hates you, go back and give them Love. I have practiced it all my life and I tell you, it works!"
I thanked him for sharing these stories with me. I told him that he has a rich life not because of the money but because of how he lives it. We even shared some thoughts about ServiceSpace and Awakin Circles. He listened with joy and said, "I would just one thing. Have GOD in the center of these activities. Human centered activities are not all that helpful, until you make GOD the center of it all."
I am filled with gratitude today for receiving such wisdom from a simple authentic human being who follows his faith.