He came to us on Christmas Eve 2012. We were having a family party at the clubhouse of my parents’ condo community. I looked up and he was standing there with a suitcase in his hand.
“I am here to pick up my keys!” he said.
I am sure we looked perplexed as we walked over to greet him.
“Sir, the office is closed until after the holiday,” we explained.
“I just flew in from South Carolina; they said my apartment was ready.” He told us he took a cab in from the airport, as he was moving back to Buffalo. “I have no place to go.”
This man had to be in his mid-80s and he had visible signs of a past stroke. But here he was on Christmas Eve and there was no room at the inn. We offered him dinner and tried to contact someone to help him.
At the end of the night he still had no place to go. “You can stay at my house tonight,” said my brother. “I have a guest room and you can celebrate Christmas with us tomorrow.” Simple as that, no questions and no fear on ether part.
It was Christmas and he was alone. My brother picked up his suitcase and off they went . Thentogether into the silent night.
The next day we set an extra plate at our table for our weary traveler. When the office opened up, he went there and got his keys.
We helped him into his new home, a very empty new place, and so the story begins.
A unique friendship developed between an elderly doctor and my 30-year-old brother, John.
My brother and the doctor became fast friends. John and my mother helped get furniture for him and he stayed with John until it was delivered.
The doctor was a familiar sight at “spaghetti Sunday” and was at all of our gatherings.
As it turned out, he did have children but they were too busy and too spread out to care for him. Even though he moved down there to be with them, he was two miles away physically and 10,000 miles away emotionally.
He came home, back to Buffalo, where he raised his children, had his practice, was young and happy. The last time I saw him was at Easter the next year. He celebrated with us, happy, thankful and smiling. I took a snapshot of him and my brother looking like old friends. With John he was sturdy again, able again, and happy once again.
That next week he had another stroke and this time he could not recover. We called his children and stayed with him at the hospital.
They made it in to say goodbye and he passed away peacefully a few days later.
His wishes were to donate his entire estate to the college he attended and donate his body to the University at Buffalo Medical School. UB recently had a service to honor and celebrate the lives of those who gave their bodies to science in the hope of teaching others.
Grateful students showed their appreciation and vowed to continue to further their education and help to build a better future for everyone.
As I sat there I realized how many lessons can be learned by watching the generosity of others. How helping someone in need can yield greater riches than gold. It reminds me of another story of love that started on a quiet Christmas Eve night when there was no room at the inn.