Lesson Two: Listen to the stories of others; they will move you.
We spent a day in EPCOT listening to the various Holiday stories around the World Showcase. All of them were interesting; many of them were moving, but none so much as Nowell, the Lumberjack in Canada. All told, I think I listened to him six times. On the third, he recognized me and winked. His rosy cheeks and jolly disposition endeared him to me like no other. The mischievous gleam in his eye reminded me so strongly of my grandfather I could barely contain myself. I always miss my pop. It seems his absence blows through me like a drafty window. But for a brief moment, the beauty of his life inextricably overshadowed the sadness of death.
Then there’s Ricardo. If you’ve not had the pleasure of meeting him, you’re missing out on something special. And, if you’ve not had the pleasure of talking with him, you’re missing out on something truly precious. Though we had plans to have dinner with Ricardo later in the week, (for those of you who may not know, Ricardo is employed at the Yachtsman Steakhouse) we actually ran into him quite by accident on Saturday at Animal Kingdom. We were on our way out of the park, when I heard a voice so distinctive, I turned around without even looking and squealed, “RICARDO!!’” We chatted for a bit and after he kissed me for what seemed like the 14th time, we parted ways promising to see each other soon. When we went to dinner, a first with our children, he and Andrew hit it off so well I didn’t think we’d be able to pry our son from the table to go back to the resort. He spent ages talking to Andrew; swapping stories, laughing and giving him pointers. He told us that as of tonight, he’d been requested 101 times, and we were his 101st family. He took great pride in this accomplishment; and his love for people and service to others shown like a beacon in a dark night. At the end of the evening, Andrew said, “He is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.” High praise from a teenager.
One evening, as we stood in line for the Candlelight Processional, we began chatting with the people around us. One couple was from Maine. We swapped “East Coast” stories, they asked me where I “was really from” and then laughed at my anecdotes of growing up in rural Texas. During our chat, “Kate” excused herself to the restroom, and as soon as she was out of site, “Steve” lowered his voice and whispered, “She doesn’t know this, but I’m going to propose to her tonight in front of the castle.” He then showed me one of the most beautiful rings I’ve ever seen. I still don’t know who was glowing more…him or the ring.
A few moments later I noticed Andrew pulling faces at two small boys behind us. They were twins, around 4 yrs old, and absolutely precious. In overhearing their conversation, I came to know that the adults they were with were their grandparents. We began chatting and I commented that the boys parent’s must be enjoying a bit of quiet time and how blessed they were to have such wonderful grandparents. The grandmother became a bit misty and the grandfather quickly explained that both the mother and father had passed away six months ago in a car accident, and they had taken over guardianship of the twins. I expressed my condolences to them both and then impulsively hugged the grandmother because, in that moment, there really were no words.
As the Candlelight Processional started, I found myself continually stealing glances at these two young boys and their grandparents. One of the twins sat, nearly motionless, entranced by the music and pageantry of the Processional. The other twin leaned against grandpa, sound asleep. In the midst of the most tumultuous of storms, it seems they had found peace in Disney World and in the two people that loved them more than anything in the world.
I found myself moved beyond words at the goodness and love that still exists in the world…regardless of what we may believe from time to time.