I originally posted this on February 9, 2009. Sadly, Gilbert passed away last week, doing what he loved - working. His funeral is today.
Re-posting, in his honour.
Once a month, our church does "Supper & A Story" - a simple supper ($2 a head) for anyone who wants to come, and then someone tells their story of where they came from, how they got here, who they are.
Last night, Gilbert and Stella told theirs. They don't actually attend our church, although we are certainly friends - they are our business neighbours, across the street.
I wish I had a day, or a lifetime, to sit and listen to them.
I am always deeply impacted when someone tells their story, and says over and over again - "Life is good. You have to treat people right. We love people and we work hard."
The impact comes, not from those statements alone, but from the other parts of their story that you almost miss, because they don't dwell on them. "My village back home was burned to the ground ... days in a concentration camp ... didn't know where my husband was because he got across the border, and I got caught ... "
These are the stories we need to hear, I think. Stories of parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, who survived things like World Wars and the Great Depression. Who knew that joy isn't at all connected to things. Who were willing to work, hard.
Stories like this are good for me. I am so truly grateful when I have a chance to hear them. A standing ovation for Gilbert and Stella, owners of the same business, at the same location, for 55 years - and for all the other champions like them!