As I was driving home from work today, listening to one of my cd’s, one of the songs, Place to Fall by Emphatic struck me. It reminded me of the one person in my life that is life itself.
What do you call a man who is more than a hero? The man who is everyday and extraordinary? How do you describe the man that is indescribable? Let me tell you a few things about this man and you tell me.
I met this man 16 years ago. The most memorable thing about that day was, as silly as it sounds, he had heard of my hometown, knew and been there. I left my home state of California when I was 19 years old. I met and married an awful man. I left him and his home state when I was 4 days shy of my 29th birthday. I moved to Texas, because my mom and Pete were here. This is where I met Tonnie for the first time. I was introduced by a co-worker. When we met he looked at me and said “I hear you are from California. Where at?”. I gave him the I will tell you but you won’t know it look and told him “Merced”. He smiled and said “Damn, I’m from Fresno!” We struck up a conversation. We started dating a little while after that.
He had a really rough childhood. The kind that people blame for turning out rotten. He was better than that and had a good moral compass. He joined the Marines at 18. He married a woman who was just as bad as my ex. I believe that there are people who just enjoy being mean. She was one of them. They divorced after 19 years together. A person can only take so much, I suppose.
He was stationed in Beirut when the bombing took place. He lost friends there and I never ask about this time, I have learned that when a veteran wants to talk about it they will, you can not rush it and you can not ask about it. It is deeply personal and they will only share when they need to share.
We married 2 year after we met. I knew that he was kind and caring but he shows me daily the depth of that caring. That caring that goes beyond even his family, which is immeasurable. I have watched first hand the generosity of his compassion and sense of what’s right. He will be the only person to stop to help an elderly woman change a flat tire on the freeway. He will stop at the scene of an accident and hold a young girl and calm her father while they wait for paramedics. He will witness a horrific motorcycle accident, stop and hold the motorcyclist, giving him comfort as he breathes his last breath. He will give his last dollar to another man so he won’t go hungry. He will stand up to the bully, for anyone who needs it. He will fight to the last breath for his family. He will protect us from any threat.
He has worked hard all his life. He started working at the age of 12 in a cotton gin. He has never been and will never be afraid of hard work. He will come home back so stiff he can barely move. His legs in so much pain he can’t sleep. And yet, day after day, he is back working to earn a living to support the family that he loves. He does not tolerate lazy, inept or whining. He has always had a strong work ethic. He will also help those learn the job that want to learn. He is always there with that helping hand.
What I find most fascinating, is that even though we live in the bible belt, we are atheists. And that one man that will give the most of himself on a personal level is not being told to do it on a weekly basis. He does the things that he does because that is what is right. He is a humanist. Treat this man with respect and kindness, he is a dying breed. Semper Fi, Tonnie.