With the close of one year and the beginning of the new, we often use this time to reflect on what has been; to make resolutions and decide upon changes we hope to make in our lives.
One could argue that our feelings may be skewed at this time of year with the celebrations and happiness that typically accompanies the festive season. However not all families are able to celebrate with happiness at this time.
The circle of life is not interrupted or stopped because of holidays or festivities. As sure as night follows day, death follows life.
I have been touched this week by the death of a close work colleague, a young man with a young family, taken too soon by an insidious disease. This, the first week of the new year will begin with his funeral; and with it an opportunity to share the loss and pain but will also mark the celebration of his life.
At memorials and in times of mourning we reflect on a life and more often than not conclude that the deceased was ‘a good person’, after all it is rare and impolite to speak ill of the dead. What makes a person ‘good’? Most people are remembered, if sometimes only by a few, as a good person.
The movie Saving Private Ryan focussed on the efforts of a group of people to save one man so he may return home to his dear mother after the loss of her other sons in WWII. In this group of men, willing to sacrifice themselves in order for this wish to be granted, the only request made of the son was that he lived life as a ‘good man’.
The essence of what made a good man was never prescribed, it was unspoken but implied. For me, this was a very touching and very poignant part of the movie.
We all have our own take on what makes one a “good person.” So many things contribute to the essence of a good person. It really is a very personal perspective.
For me compassion and empathy are two traits which feature strongly in good people. A person who demonstrates genuine interest in others and in their thoughts and opinions is a person who personifies a decent human being. They offer an ear, a shoulder and encouragement. From time to time they are even are happy to share an opinion. They are not condescending or callous and conversations are two way streets.
Good people are comfortable in their own skin; life to them is not a competition. They are accepting of others and their threshold of tolerance is high. Good people bring genuine, happiness to a room, the radiate warmth and others will gravitate to them.
Good people are not bitter, resentful and don’t hold grudges. When challenged, good people thrive and are never consumed by negativity, they seize the moment and they shine.
A good person practices humility and is humble; they have self-respect and are respectful of others. A good person is unassuming in their achievement and will leave a legacy of quiet achievements. Others will aspire to be like them.
I was privileged to be in my colleague’s company some 3 weeks ago. Our conversation was interrupted by the ringing of his phone. He took the call, he recognised the number. The treating specialist called to deliver the most heart-wrenching of news; the prognosis dire, the disease terminal and all treatment options exhausted.
Without a break in his stride he resumed our conversation. Selflessly he asked about my family, my life and how I was coping with the not so recent loss of my father. His line of questioning was not in an effort to distract himself from his fate, but rather was born out of a genuine interest in those around him. This conversation has left an indelible mark on my heart and soul. The traits of this good man are many. I aspire to be like him.
When I pay my respects to this man, husband, father and son, I will use the phrase “he was a good man,” not because it is the right thing to say but because, quite simply, he was.
Rest in peace my friend Rafal (Raf) Sorocsynski, you sincerely were a good man.