My new friend in Palm Springs died recently. I wrote about him last summer when I answered a sign looking for someone to walk his dog Toby. Roger was terminally ill, so it wasn’t a surprise, but he was a man I immediately connected with and felt quite fond of. I had this photo printed to give to Roger the last time I saw him.
He took this photo in his hands and smiled as he looked at it. Then he brought it to his lips, kissed it, and lay it on his heart. Do you see what I mean?
Roger has been gone for over a month now, but last week I found out some things about his past that have me seeing the world as a mysterious and beautiful place.
Roger had been a Episcopal priest, married with two kids, when he had an affair with a man. His marriage fell apart and his adult children disowned him. He moved to Palm Springs and started over in what he saw as a more welcoming community. Shortly before he passed, his former wife called to show love and forgiveness to him, but his kids and grandkids never did.
I recognized at the time that Roger’s kindness felt paternal to me, but what I didn’t know is that it likely felt that way to him as well. Me – who had a father in some ways much like him, yet never capable to express himself with the tenderness of Roger. Him – who had daughter-figure waltz in his door to see to his needs at his end. My daughter came to meet him too, a fact I am so grateful for now – a stand in grandchild even.
Roger’s apartment was full of religious books about the God he had served his entire adult life. It pains me to think of his own kids rejecting him to his very end. But I like to think that our brief relationship was an answer to some prayer about healing and reconciliation for both of us.
I am reminded to be open and looking, ready to see and act on an opportunity that stirs my heart. Because I don’t know the weight of my actions on others, but I do know that they can elevate my own life and maybe be a form of an answered prayer somewhere.
PS – I’ve had a few readers reach out who couldn’t attend my memoir book launch about getting a copy. You can order it by clicking this link.