When my father passed away, his impact on people became very clear. Many people of varied ages spoke of how he influenced their lives. This is very comforting to me, knowing my father’s life was meaningful. After the memorial for the professor, I stopped at a store to get a Coke and Almond Joy. Not a convenience store, nor WalMart. For some reason I pulled into Staples. After wandering around aimlessly, I found a small but thick notebook for only one dollar. Picking it up, I drifted to the writing utensil section. Just looking for something, I wasn’t sure what. Then something caught my eye. A few weeks ago, I shared a table with another author and used his Space Pen. It felt amazing and wrote beautifully. A bit on the pricey side, but I took it from the peg and put it with my one dollar notebook.
At the register, the young man at the cashier stand thanked me for getting him some candy, as a joke. I grabbed the Almond Joy and said, sorry that’s for me, and explained where I had been. He didn’t know Dr. Guthrie, but when I explained how many people loved him and respected him, and looked forward to interacting with him, he said: “Isn’t that what it’s all about? If you can do that, you’ve made it.” Yes, I answered, that is true. My dad made it, Chris Guthrie made it, and one could believe, down deep, they knew it.
Earlier in the week, my young friend Shelby was asked to read a poem at a funeral where her father was to be the minister. The poem was the winner of “The Old South Prize” in the Poetry Society of Texas in 1959-when I was two. The deceased was Marion Johnson McDaniel. He was the Alternate Poet-Laureate of Texas in 1973. He wrote over 4000 poems in his lifetime, taught school and without a doubt impacted many people’s lives. Yet, even after his death, he touched my life. Shelby was moved by the poem and she knew it would mean something to me. So, I stilled myself and read it. Afterward, sitting at my desk with closed eyes, I felt a peace, perhaps a connection with the deceased poet. He was born the same year as my mother. He was in the Civil Conservation Corp and joined the Army Air Corp just as did my father. There was a connection. Mr. McDaniel’s words swirled around me and his spirit appreciated my understanding. It felt good, like an embrace from a loved one.
During the memorial for Dr. Guthrie, someone said his philosophy included a statement something like, “It’s not what you have it’s the love you give.” It is through the passion we have for something which can help people, and the giving of that something with love is how we can “make it.” I can only hope that my love for my friends, colleagues, people whom are known and those not yet met is received and accepted. Whether it is through writing, a smile, a laugh, or some small gesture, my love should impact my world. At least that is my goal.