Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mr. Merribello from Queens, NY

I received the letter below (via email) from Wayne from Pennsylvania. I had a feeling the story about Ralph would resonate beyond the city limits of Reynolds, Ga. As I suspected, there are Ralphs in every town and in everybody's life.

Wayne's story below is very touching and is worth sharing. There is also a huge truth embedded in his story. So you won't miss it, I have highlighted Wayne's simple but profound statement below.



I’m not sure you remember me, we have spent very little time together during business meetings and afterwards socially. Just a few short times, you had made an impact on me. Thanks for this message this morning in your blog. It meant a lot to me. I thought I would share a short story about my very same experience.

As a youngster, we also had a “Ralph” in our neighborhood growing up in the big city of Queens, New York. His name was Lenny, a recluse living alone in an older run down two story home that sat by itself just past the Junior High School on the edge a very busy highway. He didn’t take much care of himself or the house he lived in, but he did whatever he could for the widows and senior citizens of the area. Like Ralph, Lenny was always busy doing something. He pushed a basket on wheels around the neighborhood with assorted tools and necessities to complete any job the older folks had requested. He never charged for his services, but the older ladies always treated him to cakes, pies and goodies to thank him for his help. We teenagers and youngsters always made fun of Lenny every chance we got. Lenny always responded is a fun way. We meant to be hurtful and he turned it into a game.

One day as I was walking past Mrs. Romeo’s house I looked down the driveway and saw Lenny and Mrs. Romeo struggling with an older stove. They were trying to carry it to the curb for trash pick-up. I don’t know what made me stop and dart down the long drive way to help, but I did. Mrs. Romeo stepped back and Lenny and I lifted and carried that old stove to the curb. I remember the smile on Lenny’s face to this day. It was a smile that displayed a genuine thank you. We made it to the curb and as I looked backed and waved to Mrs. Romeo heading in the direction of the ball park, I heard Lenny say, “We’re not done, Mrs. Romeo needs our help cleaning out her garage.”

Right then I wrestled with helping them or going to the ball park. Call it guilt or whatever you want, but I walked with Lenny back out to the garage. As I looked into the garage I saw mountains and mountains of debris, old saved mementos and out-dated furnishings. I knew this was more than an afternoon of work. To make a long story short it took us two days to complete, but at the end of a hard two day project Mrs. Romeo could pull her big old Cadillac into the garage. Over those two days I became to understand Lenny and know who he was. I learned a great deal from an individual who himself could not learn the essentials to take care of himself.

Lenny knew he was different. He knew his full potential and strived to be the best at what he could do. He didn’t work, and at that time no one would hire him - so he gave back. Lenny was not a lazy person. He was a hard worker and saw to it that everything he attempted to do, he did with care.

We were just finishing up when Lenny decided that we should wash Mrs. Romeo’s car and so we did. When we were finished Mrs. Romeo came out of her house with two homemade chocolate cakes and handed each of us one, along with a twenty dollar bill. I had a smile from ear to ear and thoughts raced through my mind with how I was going to spend it. Then I saw Lenny hand the twenty dollars back to Mrs. Romeo and thanked her for the cake. At that very moment Lenny gave me the look. A look that said, “Give back the money” and so I did.

We both walked up her driveway toward the street holding in our hands a Chocolate Bundt Cake with drizzled chocolate sauce. As a young teenager, I had to ask Lenny why he gave back the money. Lenny began to chuckle and then said to me, “Have you looked at this cake? Where can you purchase a cake like this for twenty dollars? He then stopped and turned to me in the driveway with a very serious look on his face and said something that was very profound. Lenny said, “I’m blessed with so much in my life. I can’t work in order to take care of myself and my family has provided for me. I have money, I have clothes, I have food and I have a home to live in.

Someone had to give that to me, now I have to do anything and everything I’m able to give back.”

From that point forward and because of the two very long hard days of work that I spent with Lenny I learned to respect him. From that point forward, anything he did was an interest to me. From that point forward, I always extended myself to help and encouraged people to stop making fun of him. Over a course of just a few days Lenny became Mr. Merribello to me.

Bruce, I have been receiving your blogs for some time and thoroughly enjoy them. Sometimes they're just great stories about people and events in life. Sometimes they're just thoughts that make us think, but sometimes there is a profound lesson hidden in the words for all of us to learn. Thanks for sharing…………. Since I met you everything you write has an interest to me.

Best Regards,

Camp Hill, PA


Anonymous said...

This is an amazing story. Bruce, you have touched so many lives through you blogs, not to mention how many times you have touched mine. I am blest to have you as my brother in law. Have a good week and hug my precious sister for me.

The Darkest Desire said...

Nice story, in fact captivating.

I'll have my story of ralph in philippine version with a taste of chocolate. It maybe in fiction, but sure it will struck one's heart.