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  • Writer's pictureChar Seawell

Small things

It is a small thing. His father had asked his middle aged son months ago if he would care for mom should anything happen to him. His son says yes without question, knowing his dad will be around for a long while.

A few months later, his father dies, and his son moves into his mother’s home in Arizona to care for her in this time of transition. We would not have met, but he now walks his mother’s dog to the corner house each night at 6:15 where his mother’s friends gather with their puppies and have a time of connection.

It is a corner past which we also walk our dog each night, not stopping as the group is boisterous, and our dog is not. But today, they are late, and we are able to meet and hear his story. I ask him how long he thinks he will be here.

For the rest of my life.

He has moved, lock, stock and barrel, to this desert place, leaving behind his life in Oregon to keep his promise to his father and honor his mother. He will remain until she passes, and then, he imagines, this will be his home now…

And it is another small thing. The young man stocking shelves in the early morning moves his carts to make room for me in the frozen food aisle.

“You didn’t need to do that…I can walk around you.”

It is the least I can do, he says.

As it is 6 am, I feel a need to explain that the ice cream is for my husband and that since they replaced his main artery that was hardened into concrete, he probably has a few more happy years of ice cream for breakfast.

My mother had heart surgery too, he says.

And then he goes on to explain about her childhood struggles with rheumatic fever and her knee surgery and how much he loves his familia. Life has not been an easy journey. He worries his mother is not getting the best care. But at some point, he fixes his gaze on me, kisses the cross around his neck, points skyward and says,

God has watched over us. We are blessed.

We pass each other later on near the donut aisle, because, well, what goes better with ice cream than a maple bar? Our gazes meet, and I stop him to say how much I enjoyed our conversation. He points skyward again.

May God bless you, he says…

And it is another small thing. The man who is replacing my pavers keeps coming to me to ask my opinion about design. Every time my answer is the same.

“Jose, I know nothing about pavers. You can do what you think is best.”

He continues to ask, and I continue to decline. At one point he says he believes large rocks would be a good anchor for the patio design.

“Jose, I know nothing about pavers. You can do what you think is best.”

I watch as he meticulously cuts around these beautiful, hand selected stones. It adds hours to his work. When he is done, I ask him the new estimate, since these stones have added to his cost for materials, time, and labor. He says the stones cost $300. and he would add that to the bill.

“How much is the added labor?”

Nothing, he says.

We are, of course, unsatisfied with that answer and calculate on our own, as we have watched him labor each day in the heat. One day he apologizes for leaving “early” and only putting in an eight hour day instead of his normal 10-12 because he is needed for an event with his familia.

Through the heat, through the back breaking work, through a broken hand just now healing, he labors each day not for what he can gain, though of course that is important. He labors, I think, because of his love for creating careful beauty in the lives of others. It is a legacy he leaves behind with every nuanced cut of stone.

Small things.

Each moment has been a glimpse through a window of a life marked by love. Not the kind of “love” that screams from street corners or demands headlines. Not the kind of “love” that has entrance requirements.

No, this is love as a small thing. A love that is expressed in daily moments… a son’s promise to his father in a quiet conversation…a young man’s loving concern for his familia…a workman’s love of art expressed through humble service to his craft.

These small things,

done with great love,

marked by sacrifice

and soaked in blessing.

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