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A "Joy" to Reckon With

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a-joy-to-reckon-with

At an airport, I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her plane's departure and standing near the door, he said to his daughter, "I love you, I wish you enough." She said, "Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy." They kissed goodbye and she left.

He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say goodbye to someone knowing it would be forever?" "Yes, I have," I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me. So, I knew what this man was experiencing. "Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever goodbye?" I asked. "I am old, and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, her next trip back will be for my funeral, " he said. "When you were saying goodbye, I heard you say, 'I wish you enough.' (Kabay nga ikaw hay owa ginakueangan) May I ask what that means?" He began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone."

Two things in this story hold true to JOY’S life:

1. Travel – the airport scenario could have been a “regular” occurrence in his life. There had always been a constant bid for “farewells” and “see you next time” as he went on a trip to hike or for leisure. I had the privilege of traveling with JOY both domestically and internationally and, I must say, that JOY’S presence had always been a breath of fresh air. To use his name, he was indeed, a “joy” (even in difficult times) to be with. He didn’t like dull moments. He always wanted the group to be enjoying each other’s company. When he sees one of us getting bored, he would take out his cellphone and introduce a new app to entertain us like there’s no tomorrow. It could be a game or a social app he uses to keep him on his feet or a funny YouTube video that’s gaining popularity. Well, that’s the thing with JOY, he knew us so well that he knew what would cheer us up in the best possible way. And just as he gives, he would also do the same for us. Back when “Clash of Clans” was so popular, I invited him to play the game. He did not budge but he was listening. Before I knew it, he was already “looting” and leveling up! He supported us in ways he thought were best for us. He read us like a book!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” He asks his disciples to detach themselves from worldly things for it is only God’s grace that could satisfy and feed the soul. He says to those who are in special circumstances to not worry about physical inadequacies but be contented and happy in His LOVE!” It is said that the “journey is what brings us happiness NOT the destination.” Every mountain that JOY trekked and hiked was moments filled with happiness. I must say that he has truly “LIVED” life to its fullest savoring every bit of it as a child of God. He’s worked so hard to earn a living, but he’s worked even harder to live it. He was not so attached to money. He was all in to explore God’s gift of nature and the gift of persons in his life.

a-joy-to-reckon-with

2. Love for his dad and his family – he has constantly grieved over the death of his dad, “Nong Jolly” who died 6 years ago (turning 7 later this year – Nov. 13). He told me once how devastated he and his family were when he died. The death of Nong Jolly made him even more compassionate to all his friends and even more grateful to every waking day in his life. Because of his dad, the zest for life, even more, became pronounced where death wouldn’t matter if it happens so suddenly as it did at a very young age. The same concern and love go with his family. Whenever we talked about things like “insurance,” “investment,” and future security, his family will always be at the forefront. He was single his whole life, but it did not stop him from extending what he had to his family. He never missed birthdays, fiestas, Christmases and other important family celebrations. He made sure that he was with loved ones on those very important occasions in life. It was like a tradition well-kept like precious pearls.

My friendship with JOY goes way back in and out of seminary life. When I was teaching Christian Life at Miriam College High School, I was renting a small room in Katipunan close to the school. He was working at C&E during that time and even though it would take him several rides to get to his workplace he didn’t mind them. All he wanted was to support and help me in ways he knew well as a friend. As a private school teacher, I was earning more than he was, and so the reason was not mainly financial if it were to support me. It was simply because he wanted to be a true friend. When he transferred to a different workplace (Cengage, Inc.), I offered to him my condo for rent. He was very orderly like I am and so I was very confident that my condo was in good hands. When it comes to cleanliness and orderliness, JOY and I were on the same page. I never rented my place out because I was happy with the way things were under JOY’S care. He was a true steward, a true friend, and a brother to me. When some friends start to walk away from me, JOY stayed on like he knew and understood me. We never quarreled as friends. He shut every possibility of misunderstanding and be the first one to back down. For him, the joy of friendship was more important than the stress of losing it. He drew people to him, not because he asked them to or that he wanted to, but because they love a piece of JOY who cheers them up when the tough gets rough.

So, these are the two most priceless “treasures” in JOY’S life. Knowing JOY fully well, I believe, that the other things are just accessories to fulfill or satisfy his desire to LOVE and BE LOVED in return.

*** The old man paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more. "When we said 'I wish you enough,' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with enough good things to sustain them," he continued and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory:

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish enough "Hello's" to get you through the final "Goodbye." He then began to sob and walked away. [Original story by Bob Perks, in Chicken Soup For the Grieving Soul]

JOY, now you journey past the mountains you’ve trodden in this life and return to our Creator in peace and joy. Rest in peace, my friend. My heart breaks to let you go but you’re now in a better place at home with God.

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