Charles Beeker…I am using an alias last name in respect to the man I asked “what is happiness to you?”.
My boyfriend had a big work convention, that fortunately, I was able to attend (not the convention, but the hotel and evening fun) with him. We were chartered up north to a beautiful hotel for the week. Brief note: I had a such great time! He did his daily work stuff and I got to lounge, get a massage and facial, work out, it was so awesome! The hotel was casual fancy, the food was incredible, the people there were great and even the corporate transportation service, which was a huge beautiful charter bus, was on point…. So it was like a vacation for me:).
Ok back to Charles. He was with the group at the convention. One evening after we had dinner, we were outside where everyone was mingling and doing the after dinner thing. Rand, my boyfriend was engaged in conversation, so I start wandering to find someone to strike a conversation with. I saw this man there, but off on his own, kinda just gazing out. He would look up at the night sky and then out into the quietness of the hotel landscape. I walked over to him and said, “peaceful evening, isn’t it.” “Peaceful Indeed,” was his reply. We stood in silence for a moment. I felt like he felt lonely or something. Not quite sure what it was, but I felt kinda sad for a brief moment, and then I felt bad for feeling sad for a man I did not know. So I blurted out, “What is happiness to you?” At the time I was thinking why did I just ask that. No opening conversation, you don’t know this man…well, whatever.
Charles just looked at me. I apologized and explained that I’m curious what happiness is to people. Is it money, love, family, all of the above, or what?
He then said, “see this here?” It was a scar and bump thing on left wrist. He said he had to have carpal tunnel surgery, which he obviously had. He proceeded to say they messed his surgery up, badly. He doesn’t have too much feel in three of his fingers and there is a lot of scar tissue and pain. He said it was very painful. “They told me I needed to have the surgery. I wasn’t sure I wanted to. My wife said, you should have it Charles, it will help you.” I was hesitant for awhile and so decided to wait on it. My wife passed away. I decided to have the surgery.” I just stood there wondering, how did she pass away, how long ago was all this? But I remained quiet and let him finish the answer to my question.
“You see, as I was going in for my surgery, I thought my doctor drunk. Well, he was, and he botched my surgery.” he explained. “Did you sue them,” I asked. “Yes I did, and I won.” he replied. “Well that’s at least good then.” I told him.
He looked at me and said, ” I would give every dime of the large settlement I won, to have my wife back. We were not poor, but we worked hard for the money we had. I always said, one of these days we won’t have to work anymore. I’m going to work smarter and harder and find a small fortune to take care of you. She always said, Charles I don’t care about the money. I now do not have to work, but I do because I feel lost without her. I would give everything I own and have to have her next to me. I think back often on the fun times we had, the times we struggled, the times we laughed, cried, shouted, all of it. I miss every moment, good and tough.” My heart filled with emotion for him. I didn’t have anything to say, his story left me quiet, so again I just stood there.
He turned to me again and said ” Happiness to me is the love that I have for my wife. It is to this day what keeps me going, even without her physical presence. That and the beautiful daughter we brought into this world. It’s not the settlement I received, or the places I can go, or the fillers I can buy to mute my pain. It is this deep love for her. To be honest, it’s hard to move forward and feel happy from other things. I mean I have moments of it, but it’s hard. Remembering and keeping that love in my heart and sharing it with my daughter is why I can even continue at this point, it is saving me. Always take a moment to recognize where your true happiness comes from, and enjoy each moment of it as is. Be present with it. I wish now I was more present with it at times with her.”
I just gave him a hug. No words, simple hug. Then I thanked him. We stood there for a bit longer and my boyfriend walked up and said hello to Charles. There was some small talk and then we shook hands and said goodnight. It’s weird because I felt sad and wanted to make Charles happy or say something, but I realized at this tim,e less was more. He answered my question, and I truly believe it felt good for him to say all of what he told me. It was a very rewarding experience with a somewhat stranger.
Thank you Charles for sharing a bit of your life with me. It made me take a deep breath and feel alive for the love I have in my life, for the people that are in it and for the people I have the pleasure to encounter throughout this “Crazy Life”.