People and animals are drawn to softness and warmth. These qualities are abundantly present in friendly folks. On the other hand there are some people who have sharp, cold demeanors; who do everything “by the book”; and who behave almost like robots. It’s as if they prefer to keep a lot of distance between themselves and others.
It is the simple, open-hearted people who remind us of wildflowers in a jelly jar on a gingham print cloth over a small wooden kitchen table we like. They can be of humble status or upper class, it is their open, sincere friendliness that we trust.
“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend–or a meaningful day.”–His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso
I attended the funeral of a friend on Monday. He was one of those salt of the Earth old guys. Burt would have been a wonderful grandfather if he would have married and had children. His smiling demeanor reminded me of some old men in Norman Rockwell paintings. Burt was a kind-hearted, friendly guy but not in a smarmy, goody two shoes way. He was one of those Nebraska drivers who liked to do the “farmer wave” to on-coming vehicles on the open road.
Burt admitted that he had a “weakness” that rarely got him in trouble, but usually yielded benefits. That is he liked to help people in need. That’s why he chose nursing as a career. Even after he retired, Burt enjoyed looking in on family and friends who had come down with the flu, or some other illness or injury. He said people in trouble brought out his desire to “mother” and pamper them.
Although Burt was a quiet, humble man, he had a heart as big as the world. His funeral ceremony was packed to standing room only by people wishing to pay their respects. One of Burt’s nephews gave the eulogy. He said that Burt could have been a mentor to everyone he met. Burt’s friendliness positively influenced most people he knew. Burt’s motto was, “Whenever you can, share goodness to those who need it. Everybody needs it.”
This was printed on the back page of the little pamphlet that contained Burt’s obituary outline:
“To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts unexpressed–that can make of this earth a garden.”–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
If there could be a Hall of Fame for friendly people, Burt would have earned a space there. He liked to share a smile with everyone he met. He had some friends who were well-to-do and many who were of modest means. He treated them equally well. He liked to say that many people are just too tired to share smiles. Burt recommended that we share some of our smiles with them.