Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 11, 2013

Charles Romans: What we are made of: 12/12/13

Charles Romans
The Independent

ASHLAND — It’s interesting how so many people and things come into our lives and change them forever.

Everyone, of course, recognizes the major events and what might be called pivotal meetings; a wedding, for instance, or the day that we met our future spouse. And though things such as these are forever etched on our conscious minds there are other more subtle things that have a lasting impact on us as well.

We learn from experiences that might not seem very important at the time or see people every day that we might, well, take for granted.

If we are fortunate then we can grasp these things and build on them — and learn to appreciate the people in our lives as well, because too soon it seems they can be taken from us. Situations and experiences can be duplicated to varying degrees, so missing them isn’t usually catastrophic.

But with people we seldom get more than one chance to appreciate them and to truly understand how they have become part of who we are. And unfortunately we don’t realize this until they are gone.

It is possible that we don’t grasp the importance of the people in our lives because our perspective is slightly different for each other person

we know. I watched a young lady grow up, and an older friend watched me grow up. They did not know each other, and to the best of my knowledge, the only connection between the two was me. They had nothing in common and even the impact they had on me was different ... but I learned from them, and they both contributed to all of the many things that make me who I am.

I watched the young lady grow up into a beautiful, caring woman who gave unstintingly of herself to anyone who was in need and I learned self-sacrifice. I watched her struggle to raise a family while suffering from the scourge of cancer, and to use her illness to help others, and it taught me a special kind of courage. Her passing left my world less bright, because I had assumed the light would always be there until, of course, it was gone. Some of that light, however, will always be with me.

My older friend watched me do far too many stupid things while I was trying to grow up. He never judged, only laughed knowingly, and brought his wrecker to pull my car out of the ditch. I don’t remember ever being charged for more than gas money, and I learned that friends help their friends (even broke, stupid ones) out of bad situations just because that’s what friends do.

Even when it was cold, or rainy, or hot, he still would come when I called because he, as he often said, had been there before. That helped me learn empathy and loyalty, and I like to think he made me a better person.

I didn’t ignore either of them, but now I do wish that I had spent far more time with them both. Their effect on me, I realize, was far more profound than I would have thought possible.

But I am grateful to have known them both, because now I know in a very real way that they, and so many other people, are part of what I am made of.

CHARLES ROMANS is a freelance writer who lives in Greenupo County.