mental radio when the tunes playing inside my head,

turn out to be the LORD trying to tell me something...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

We saw Antonio yesterday afternoon. An old friend of my late husband.

Funny how we ran into him. Once again, I was pushing it on refilling the tank. Prices dropped that day, and I was gonna put a little gas in - just right after this next errand. Well...

I went to get on the highway, going uphill to merge - and the engine started to lose power. We reached the top of the hill without it dying, and it got back to normal.

Hmmm...gas sloshing, I thought. Getting way too close to empty.

Instead of merging, I stayed in the on-lane, which became the off-lane, and headed for the nearest gas station. Reached it ok - car didn't die on me. It was a gas station I don't remember ever stopping at before.

Sent my daughter inside with the money to pay for our purchase. I was standing by the car, waiting for the pump to reset so I could put the gas in when I saw him.

The bicycle with the bags of aluminum cans hanging off the front and rear. The scruffy white beard, and well-weathered face. The baseball cap.

He was washing out a thermos at the faucet at the corner of the gas station. He finished that, turned our way.

I waved.

He came over. It was Antonio all right. And he remembered us. He kept pointing at my oldest, saying her name over and over, saying, 'one year' and 'muy chiquita.' Meaning he remembered her from when she was a year old, and very tiny.

I remember it as well. It was the first time I met Antonio. My husband had met him somehow, and invited him to come into our house. He offered Antonio something to eat, and Antonio wanted beans. I looked in the pantry, somewhat flustered, not at all sure what to serve him. I opened a can of great northern beans to heat up, but then Antonio brought out a can of his own, of the spicy ranch-style beans that are so popular down here. I heated up the beans; Antonio rambled on and on, talking with my husband (who could speak Spanish, unlike me) - playing with the baby, who spoke neither English nor Spanish, and got along with Antonio quite well.

It occurred to me only today, that there's probably a very good reason why Antonio remembers that visit so fondly. Very likely, my husband was one of the few people around here who ever invited Antonio to come into their house.

You pass by Antonio along the road, and you will see an old man on a bicycle, picking up the cans from people's cast-off sodas. He collects them, then takes them over to the recycling center and turns them into money. Not a whole lot of money, but it's some - and he worked for it.

He isn't homeless - my husband once picked him up and gave him a ride home. He basically lives in a shack he made with his own two hands - and my husband wasn't entirely sure that the owner of that property knew Antonio was living on it. But it was a home, and it was his - his own efforts made it for him.

Most people, passing him by as they drive in their cars, probably don't pay him much attention - many don't even see him. There were times, I think, when I didn't much want to see him, knowing that if I waved and acknowledged he was there, I would then have to endure the man's rambling shattered English.

I greeted him warmly yesterday. He came over and pointed to my daughter a lot, saying her name, saying her name. He asked how many ninos - I said siete. (He never remembers.) I wondered would he ask about my husband - he always called him 'Rencho,' a nickname no one else used.

He didn't ask about Rencho. Apparently he did remember that now. The day that I saw him six months after the fact and struggled with my shattered Spanish to let him know his friend had died.

His friend. My husband was his friend. Others drove by without seeing him, but my husband saw him, and he cared. And because he did, now I cherish the old man too. He is a connection to the old days, when my husband was still alive, and saw the value in taking a few or even a lot of minutes, to bother to talk to a harmless old eccentric along the highway of life.

I just finished reading your posts. I do have to say that I am sorry that you lost your husband. At the same time I realize that he is where we want to be. Continue to put your faith in the Lord and He will continue to bless you as you raise your children. His memory will live on eternally in the memories you both shared and through the children you created together! You and I do have some things in common. Most important being a love of God and our Savior, several kids, we have both lived in Texas and Georgia (we were stationed there in the Air Force before moving to Texas.)We have both lost someone who is very important in our lives. In my case I lost my mother on Valentines Day 2001, my father a month before I was born and a sister back in 1995. I can't imagine losing someone without the faith that I have, I am sure it would change everything. Because of my faith I am able as I am sure you are, to move on and to understand that our time on this earth is so short and that we should make the most of it. I completely understand that it is so important to just know when to be there for someone without saying a word. Sometimes words can be hollow and as you stated in a few posts, it is easy for people to judge you without having a clue of what is really going on inside a persons heart! So sometimes it is much better to know when not to say anything. I have 4 teenagers, 2 boys and 2 girls. It sounds like you have been blessed so much. What I found most compelling in your posts is that you know when to be quiet and listen so the Spirit can whisper to you and guide your actions. You also give credit where it is due. So many times we want to say that good things happen in our lives because of things we do. This may be true to a point. I also believe that God never takes His eyes off of us and if we learn to listen and heed His guidance, He will always lead us in the right direction. When we struggle He will always provide a way out (case in point:your washing machine). I believe that we must struggle and be given opposition sometimes so that we can grow. I also loved the story about Antonio. Your husband was truly a Christian and he refused to let other peoples opinions sway the way He would treat them, as God would. You sound like you have the same qualities. I am glad you didn't listen to your grandmother in that case. Hey I wish you all the best as a mom. You can check out my website at if you would like. I have posted some pix of my family there. I will be coming back to your blog because of the many I have read, yours is a refreshing change of pace.
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