What Makes Us Unique?

Seems like a pretty basic and simple question, but maybe its not what we think.  Of course, what country and nationality we are born into, makes us different.  Language makes us different.  Certainly, what we look like, how we think, and talk, serves to make each of us much of who we are.

I’m writing this as my brother-in-law, who I have known since I was 8 years old, is in hospice, waiting for the inevitable.  [This posting was written some days ago, and we just received word that Bill has now passed, on Christmas Eve.]  Times like this force us to think about what difference we have made in the world, and is the world a different and better place for us having had the opportunity to pass through it?

It’s a difficult question.  And, perhaps, not one that can be answered fully on this side.  For many such questions, only God has the adequate and complete answer.  But, even so, there are some things we can know.

I won’t try to recount all the things Bill (my brother-in-law) has said and done, if only because I’m not qualified to do so.  There are others who can fill in the necessary gaps, and can give us a better picture of who he was.  I also don’t know much about his upbringing, or the family he came from.  But, even with my lack of knowledge I find I do know a bit about Bill.

Bill is a born salesman.  Not the high-pressure sales type, or the one who never lets you get a word in edge-wise.  No, he is not that kind of salesman.  Bill is that rare breed that cares about giving people the best deal he can.  The kind of deal that benefits both parties, the receiver and the giver.  Because of this rare quality Bill could actually sell anything – boats, cars, homes, ice cream, restaurant equipment, computers, furniture, and anything else that makes life worth living, or makes it easier.  He could sell anything, because for Bill it was never about the ‘thing’, or the $$$ – it was about the people.

I’m not sure Bill ever met a stranger.  Because once the conversation began Bill made each person feel as if he had known them for years, and instead of it being a ‘get acquainted’ session, it would turn into a ‘oh, it’s nice to see you again’ reunion instead.  Instead of forcing himself to listen to each person, he engaged himself and made each person feel like they were the only people in the room.

My last conversation with Bill will serve to illustrate what I’m saying.  He was recovering from head surgery where they have removed a portion of his skull and replaced it with a large metal plate.  During our short visit, the doctor entered the room and went through some standard procedures.  The doctor asked Bill if he needs anything.  “Yes, I’m very thirsty and would like some water.”, he replied.  “Sure, I’ll get that for you.”  The doctor continues his exam for a few more minutes, and then prepares to leave.  He then remembers the water, and said, “Oh, I need to get that water for you.”  To which Bill replied, “Oh, that’s ok.  Just whenever you have the time.”  Why, is this important, you may ask?  Let me explain.  Having come out of significant surgery, sedation, and other things, a person’s guard goes down, and what is revealed is the real person.  It could be anger, frustration, bitterness, or anything in-between.  Your ‘political correctness’ is gone, and you express whatever is deep inside.  For Bill, it was a consideration for the doctor’s time, and a gentleness that pushed his own needs down the priority ladder.

But, this is not unusual for Bill.  It’s part of what made him unique.  Time will not permit me to speak of his love for his family, the people he has helped, the friends he has made, or the sacrifices he has made.  What I can say is that Bill is unique, and there won’t be another like him.  My life has been made better by my knowing him, and having crossed paths with him.  The world suffers a great loss at his departing.

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One Response to “What Makes Us Unique?”

  1. Barbara McGuire Says:

    This blog choked me up. What a wonderful tribute to what was a wonderful man! I didn’t know Bill but your blog made me feel as though he were an old friend. So very sorry for your loss but it sounds like Bill is now rejoicing with the Father. I’m sure if the tables were turned Bill could have said the same things about you. He was a blessed man to have been spoken so highly of. Thank you for sharing such a special writing! Blessings…

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