Even in a place as ordinary as Larry’s Deli in Rincon can eternal truths be spoken.
I often stop into Larry’s for a Giant Delight, which my bathroom scale considers more of a Giant Disaster, but this time I had a friend with me to at least help me take my mind off the calories I was ingesting. So, Gary Helmey (not to be confused with “Helmly” or “Helmley” or other “Helmey-isms”) and I entered Larry’s for a little Labor Day lunch and relaxation Monday after sweating through an oven installation.
I immediately saw Mr. Tommy Strickland’s clan and knew the funeral home director who is friend to all had to be close by. I soon spotted him gathering his family to head out. Mr. Tommy was well-dressed and professional. There’s nothing unusual about that. In fact, I think Mr. Tommy must sleep in an ironed shirt and classic tie.
But before Mr. Tommy left, he made a point to ask Gary about his ancestry. Given the name Helmey, there’s nothing unusual about that, either.
As it turns out, Mr. Tommy remembers Gary’s grandfather Randall, and they chatted for a while. In the midst of that conversation, Mr. Tommy paid for our lunches. If you know Mr. Tommy, you will note there’s nothing unusual about that generosity, either. (Note to self: Find out when Mr. Tommy goes to Ruth’s Chris.)
As he parted, Mr. Tommy looked back at Gary and said, “I want you to know that your grandfather was a great guy, and he did a lot for the county. He was a good man.” Gary appreciated the comment, and Mr. Tommy left.
And I couldn’t help but wonder: Isn’t that what we all want — to be remembered, and to be remembered as someone who was good, someone who made a difference, someone who is worth remembering?
Mr. Tommy didn’t say, “Your grandfather was a rich man, or a great-looking man, or a famous man.” No, because none of that — if it were true — would have never really made a difference to anyone but his grandfather. Randall Helmey was remembered fondly because he was a good man, meaning his actions and words affected others positively and that people left interactions with him richer in some way. Again, isn’t that what we all want?
You see, no one will ever remember you because of the empire you built or the amount in your bank account when you die, but they will remember you because of how you made them feel.
That is a truth that never changes. And in a world where accepted truths have become open to interpretation, that is unusual indeed.
The Rev. Dr. Bob LeFavi, installed member of the Society of Ordained Scientists, is pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church, Springfield.