Last week, I spent two hours with a 64 year old, hispanic man. Knowing he spoke little English and I spoke even less Spanish, I began the momentous two hours in silence.
I pulled out of the gravel lot searching my directionally challenged brain for the most efficient route to our destination.
David stuck his finger out, like E.T., and touched my dashboard.
I leave my windows down often and a nice coat of light green pollen has covered my car's interior. My son, Max, had recently drawn a smiley face and wrote the word "happy" in the allergy dust.
David drew a smiley face above the word and in his thick accent he spoke words that have haunted me the past 10 hours,
"I am happy....too much"
I looked at his face and he had the biggest smile!
For the next two hours, David and I communicated with English, Spanish, guessing games, charades, and laughter.
I quickly caught on that he said "too much" for "very" or "a lot". I found this endearing.
He said he did not spend much time with other people and even after being here 20 years, he did not speak English "too much" because there was no need. "Too much" people didnt speak to him.
And yet he seemed very happy-
He came to America 20 years ago and after living in Texas and California, a trip to Memphis stole his heart. He loved it "too much" here and decided to stay, working for a good construction company that has treated him well for the past 17 years, (he said in broken English/Spanish).
He has 3 sons and 3 daughters, brothers and sisters and, until she passed a few years ago, a mother, all residing in Mexico.
He has some family in California, Texas, and Miami. "I have a cousin in Miami", I commented.
Later, I joked with other co-workers that I wasn't sure because of the language barrier, but I might have agreed to a trip to Miami with David.
As I realized the communication was easier than I thought and he was quite witty, I started asking more questions. David's hobby was woodworking- easier now in his house garage than previously inside his apartment- and making greeting cards. He illustrates and writes Mother's Day, Anniversary, Birthday, and other cards in Spanish and sends them to his sister, in Mexico, to sell. I made him promise to bring some by the office when he felt better, so I could see them.
David has had diabetes for 11 years and recently he has felt bad. The doctor gave him some nutrition advice and helped him understand that he needed to eat and adjust his insulin.
I took David back to his car, sat with him while he ate his lunch, and made sure he felt well enough to drive home. He came by the job, last Friday, for his check. He wasnt feeling great but all expected to see him at work this week.
Today I received a call. David had been found dead in his home this morning. He seemed to have passed several days ago.
I cannot find the words to express my sadness. He was alone. No family here.
But after several conversations I have had today, I found out he will be missed.
I hope he knew he was liked-