In photos of him as a baby, a toddler, a boy, he is laughing, his face as bright and eager as a white kite darting about a blue sky. A lifetime later, the face I see each morning is the same. He beams, eyes sparkling, smile stretched from ear to ear.
Sometimes I observe him curiously, trying to figure him out. His parents were cold. Unhappy probably. Fatally disappointed. Poverty is wearying, defeating. It can be deadly. He has no memory of being loved. He was not held, not touched, not kissed.
He played baseball, graduated from high school, did his time in the army, came out, acquired a trade, married. Took steady, responsible care, in turn, of each dying parent. To her death, his mother’s face was turned from him.
His marriage was unhappy, his wife angry, tormented. He was not loved. He took responsibility for rearing his children, staying until they were safely on their own.
He was fifty and alone when I found him. But he had friends. He is always closely surrounded with friends who are glad of his merry company. Men like and respect him. Women trust him.
His eyes are not storied. They are clear as water. He seems unpolluted by any murky undercurrents from the past. He says he just doesn’t think about it.
He doesn’t frown ahead, either. He doesn’t pick his way into the future as through a minefield. He says there’s no point in worrying about it.
Unloved children can become dangerous adults. But he is kind, gentle, patient. He is a loyal and supportive friend and husband, cheerful even when I suspect that his heart is broken. He is good-hearted.
He arises each morning smiling, beaming love and mischief.
I observe him curiously, trying to figure him out. He must carry pain, disappointment, possibly his own measure of fear. We all do. But it is no where evident. He inserts the links in his French cuffs, tucks a pocket silk in his suit pocket, drops a hat on his head, grins, leans to a kiss, goes out.
He is one of the bravest people I have ever known.