Friends of Padre Steve’s World,
Yesterday I wrote about what a shitty day that most of my Monday was. That was not the original article that I had planned, but it is better to put my original thoughts in this article because even a thoroughly shitty day can have a good ending.
When I left work on Monday I was so upset that in order to decompress before going home I stopped at Gordon Biersch for a beer or two. I needed a bit of time in a quiet place to regather myself to ensure that I did not take my bad mood home and inflict it on Judy. At Biersch, the bartender, a young man named Jordan asked how I was doing and I told him that my day had been shitty. Jordan is a really nice young man and we love him, and he asked what he could do. I told him that I needed a little bit of time alone, but later I told him how much I appreciated him asking. That makes a difference.
I also got a text from one of my subordinate chaplains reminding me how much that he and my staff care about me and appreciate me. That too was awesome. When I saw my Chief the next morning she asked if there was anyone’s “tires she could slash” to make it better. One has to appreciate folks like that. I have a great staff and they are protective of me, in large part because most of them saw how my predecessor was treated by a different command team. Thankfully, those people are gone and I don’t have to deal with the kind of things that he endured, but even so, the care that my staff has for me is amazing, and I do my best to provide an environment where they can succeed and have their accomplishments recognized. The fact of the matter is that no-matter what the end of my military career is much closer than it ever was, I think I will be retiring by 2020 or 2021 with somewhere between 39 and 40 years of service between the Army and Navy, unless through some really unusual circumstances I get promoted to Captain and hand out a couple of more years. I don’t think that will happen, but I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.
Later in the evening, my friend Vince who just retired from the Navy Chaplain Corps gave me a call to check on me which was also very much appreciated.
But the most special thing that happened Monday when I got home was that Judy and I went out to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant in our area, Las Palmas. We had dinner at the bar and she was great in helping me talk through some of what I had been through and what I was feeling, but she did something totally unrelated to me which meant more than anything that evening. There was a man at the bar who I had met before. He is on partial disability and lives in a tent in a wooded area that hasn’t been plowed under for another shopping center or housing development, you could say that he is homeless. He is a pretty nice guy and when we got there he struck up a conversation and noted that it was his 64th birthday. He was having dinner and a couple of drinks. The cool thing is that restaurant management and staff treat him as well as people who have lots of money. That’s one of the reasons we go there, they are awesome people who make you feel at home.
Anyway, he struck up a conversation with Judy and they hit it off. She is amazing and she has such love, care, and compassion for people that it blows me way. She is a far better person than I will ever be. As we sat there she told me that we were going to buy his dinner, because we were going to help make the night special for him. She continued to talk with him and I was in tears. Not long afterward the manager and staff came up, put a sombrero on him and began to sing Happy Birthday, with a few twists peculiar to Las Palmas. It was really cool. When we were all about done he thought he was going to pay and I said that it was taken care of and for him to have a happy birthday. It was an honor to be able to do that.
But what blew me away was Judy. She is amazing and if there were more people in the world like her the world would be a far better place. I was reminded of the words of Bill Murray playing Phil the weatherman stuck in a time loop in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for Groundhog Day to his producer Rita, played by Andie McDowell. In one of those constantly repeating days she is asleep and he looks at her and says:
“I think you’re the kindest, sweetest, prettiest person I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve never seen anyone that’s nicer to people than you are. The first time I saw you… something happened to me. I never told you but… I knew that I wanted to hold you as hard as I could. I don’t deserve someone like you. But if I ever could, I swear I would love you for the rest of my life.”
Honestly, I don’t deserve someone like Judy, and his words bring tears to my eyes when I see Judy. That made my day and made me realize that no matter how shitty things may be that I have the privilege of being married to the most wonderful woman in the world. She is amazing.
So until tomorrow,
P.S. I was able to get some of the things that I was upset about taken care of in Tuesday. Things are for the most part better now.