Reflections From A Garden Bench

Pompili Panorama

Some people are born into families of opportunity, education and extraordinary means that most of us will never have.

Some people are blessed with talent so superior that they spend lifetimes performing on stages where most of us will never stand.

Some people travel the world and are shaped by the sights and sounds of continents and cultures that most of us will never see.

Alfonso PompiliAnd then there are the people who have truly made a difference. The people we know and will always remember due to a twist of fate, the accident of birth, or an unexpected detour in our road of life. They are the few among many.

They are the people in our lives who don't measure success by an accumulation of wealth; the roar of  applause ; or the number of places they've been to and explored.

They're people who are special from the inside out. People who could care less about displaying the size of their houses and couldn't care more about demonstrating the size of their hearts. 

Alfonso L. Pompili was one of these truly special people. He was my father-in-law. One of the most extraordinary ordinary people that I've ever come to know. I'm blessed and thankful to have been a member of his family and to be inspired by the way he lived his life. 

Over the years I heard him called Alfonso, Fonzie, Alfonse, and Pap - and it didn't matter to him what you called him - it only mattered that you cared enough to call. And when you did - whether by phone, sitting next to him on his porch swing, while clasping hands around the dinner table, or on the bench in his cherished garden - he gave you his undivided attention and the benefit of all he had to offer. He was there to answer questions, offer advice or to simply listen to what was on our minds. His gift to his family included his many stories. Stories that were special because they were never about things or accomplishments. Instead, they were always about the people closest to him - his family, neighbors, coworkers and friends.

Alfonso Pompili passed away on Saturday, August 25th. He was 86 years old. Hundreds of people came to pay their respects and help to celebrate and remember the stories of his life.

Garden BenchI sat at his dinner table on Sunday, in his porch swing on Monday, and on Tuesday afternoon I paid a visit to the bench in his garden. On each occasion I thought of special memories and observations about my wife's dad.

I'll always remember that each time he greeted or said goodbye to a member of the family, he made sure to include a strong hug. A hug that wasn't over until he decided it was. I'll remember his wit and sense of humor. I'll remember his stories of growing up as a child on Harner Street and then raising his own children in the home where his parents raised him. I'll remember a man who, despite having retired more than twenty years ago, never seemed to slow down. He loved to be busy and productive. He chopped wood, mowed grass, hoed the garden, and repaired anything that was on the fritz. He could do (and did) it all. 

No one ever questioned the size of his heart. It was big and filled with love.

We'll miss you Pap! Thanks for listening and for letting me talk with you while I was sitting on your garden bench. I knew you were there.

He was a husband, father, grandpa and friend. The number of lives he touched and the love that he shared was huge yet unassuming. He will be missed by those that had the good fortune to know and love him. This is a tribute to the man we knew as Alfonso, Fonsie, and Pap.

Your comments, suggestions, and stories of your personal edge are always welcome in my guest book.