One of my favorite movies to watch at Easter is Ben-Hur, the 1960, Charleton Heston version. At three and a half hours long, it’s a classic piece of cinema that Patrick endured while I adored.
It’s one of those movies that you watch when you have and/or need time. Bind a large rug or knit ten dishcloths and you will be halfway through the show, perhaps to the rowing scene with Heston and his handsome self flexing those beautiful muscles.
Based on the novel by Lew Wallace, the story follows the lives of Judah Ben-Hur and Jesus of Nazareth. Needless to say, their paths cross at pretty important places.
My favorite line, about three hours in, occurs when Heston, well, Ben-Hur, gives Jesus water, as our Savior painfully labours through the streets of Jerusalem. He recognizes Jesus as the person who quenched his own thirst several years earlier and says, “I know this man”. It’s a pretty dramatic scene, and I love it.
And Patrick and I were never above using it over and over again when we saw someone we knew at the grocery store or Tim Horton’s or other less holy places. The joke would be who could spew it out the fastest: I know this man!
Now, this was the movie we had just begun Easter morning, last year, when all hell broke lose. We never got to my favorite line. We got as far as the door.
And nothing has been the same since. But the body and perhaps more importantly, the spirit, does move on and heal if you let it, so that the pain of that day has already faded somewhat and is giving me the chance to write this piece.
Yes, I knew this man. He was
- my best friend
- crazy-ass funny
- a wonderfully patient sibling
- a determined caregiver
- a meticulous planner
- a valued employee
- the perfect Catholic son to his mother
- a devoted son to a difficult father
- best dad ever
- a husband to die for
- chief pumpkin carver and Halloween costume maker
- fisherman, conservationist, and environmentalist
I could go on forever. I invite you to add your own.
This beautiful man walks with Jesus, of that I have no doubt, and he is doing whatever our Lord asks of him (although he may not be above questioning Him nor suggesting a better way, or attempting to get the last word in).
Is he a fisher of men? How neat would that be? I sure hope he doesn’t have to do kitty litter duty in heaven. Maybe he is instructing others; he certainly took great pride in helping the vulnerable. Whatever has been asked of him, he will complete it with care and efficiency, even if frustrations arise.
At the end of Ben-Hur, both Jesus and Judah find peace after very painful struggles, and that’s God’s promise to us all, isn’t it, particularly during this season of hope. May we all come out on the other side of our physical and mental traumas to find the calm.
After Patrick died, I remember two thoughts coming through very plainly as if they were being spoken to me. The first was I am at peace. The second (while standing at the edge of Newville Lake) was I am so glad we married when we did. It is very clear to me who was doing the talking from the other side.
And that fits perfectly with the man I know, I love, and miss. He would want nothing more than for us to know how much he loved us, and that he is doing okay.
We are too, hon. xoxo