With My Father’s Death, Comes A Lesson For Life…With A Little Help From Our Friends.
~Frank Gjata, founder, Conscious Ink
Setting out to write my father’s eulogy, I wasn’t sure where I would land, but I was clear as to the direction I was headed.
I started my expedition with my compass pointed to the core essence of my father, Thomas. His deepest truths. What made Thomas uniquely Thomas. I mean, why mess around? If I was going to dig, I was going to break out the heaviest, and the finest detail, excavation equipment I could muster.
I wasn’t sure if I would arrive at this very specific intended destination successfully, but, fortunately, this kind of distilling and mining for truth was a practice I had grown accustomed to over the years, whether it was directed at myself, others I coached, or the universe at large.
I won’t include the entire eulogy here, but I will share how in search for some of Thomas’ deepest truths, they, serendipitously and graciously, found me first.
This was fitting…since Thomas would also often say, “Life is strange”. What he meant by that was that he noticed the synchronicities of life. He saw how everything was connected, and interwoven together.
I experienced a couple of these “life is strange” moments during this time contemplating about my father.
...this kind of distilling and mining for truth was a practice I had grown accustomed to over the years...
I have the pleasure of being an acquaintance of Anita Moorjani, a beautiful soul, and the best selling author of “Dying To Be Me” (a life-changing book which chronicles her incredible near-death experience, which I highly recommend by the way). Anita and I had tentative plans to have tea, a few days after my father had passed. She unexpectedly had to fly out to New York. I let her know that my father had passed recently, and asked her to please have her people on “the other side” welcome Thomas. She graciously said she would say a prayer for my dad, and would ask Wayne and others to look out for him for sure. I thought to myself how awesome, and delightfully unexpected…I forgot that Anita was dear friends with Wayne Dyer (that was the “Wayne” she was referring to).
Grateful to Anita for her kind gesture, I started to wonder, “Could there be a connection between my dad, who’d never read a self help book in his life, and Wayne Dyer?”
Well, for starters, Thomas was a wise man in his own right. So much so, that a family friend coined the nickname for him, “Nostra-Thomas”… a play on words with the famous seer “Nostradamus”.
Thomas knew how to go with the flow of life. And he knew how to ultimately let go. He would often say, “C’est la vie”, “water under the bridge”, and, “what can you do”. He seemed to have a strong grasp of understanding the difference between the things we can control in life, and the things we can’t.
And then, another serendipitous moment occurred during the wake for my dad. A couple of us were sharing about Thomas, talking about his warm smile, big heart, and the way he carried himself…then, all of a sudden, Anna, our 80-something year old relative with a thick Italian accent blurts out loudly and enthusiastically, “Ricchi senza soldi!”. And even before I could translate the words from Italian into English, I knew instantly that our relative Anna had sourced Thomas’ essence in a flash.
Thomas lived, “Ricchi con o senza soldi!”, which translates to, “Rich, with or without money”. I thought wow, that’s IT. That describes Thomas to a tee. This is how Thomas lived “Ricchi, con o senza soldi.” Rich, with or without money.
(And, the irony wasn’t lost on me that this moment was able to reach me when I was willing to let go trying to find it.)
So, I thought, what makes a man rich? We know that money doesn’t necessarily make one so. So what then? For Thomas, it was a CHOICE to live richly, everyday. Well, most days. And Thomas made that choice in a variety of ways. He didn’t allow circumstances to dictate the way he lived life.
Live richly, with or without money.
This is the key principle:
Choose to live richly regardless of circumstances (however that might look like for you).
Give that a moment.
So, with his “Ricchi con o senza soldi”, Thomas would greet each day dressed in a suit, polished shoes, clean shaven, and with a flower in his lapel. He wore a rich, warm smile. And he valued every interaction greatly, and intently.
He had a deep respect for life. And life noticed.
He lived richly by sharing with others what he had, regardless of what he had. He would give money, whether or not he had money to give. He made friends wherever he went, even in unlikely places, with people from all walks of life, including those he would meet on his walks, like the homeless. He would literally stop and smell the roses. And he was always prepared for adventure…saying “YES” to the invitations of life that crossed his path, without overanalyzing, questioning, or making excuses about why he couldn’t participate. That is living richly, “Ricchi con o senza soldi”! Say it with me now. It’s kinda catchy. “Ricchi con o senza soldi”.
LIVE RICHLY, WITH OR WITHOUT MONEY.
Now this sounded like a great title for a self help book I thought.
Although, as I mentioned previously, I would venture to say that Thomas never read a new age book in his life. Yet, here he was embodying, some very rich concepts in living.
I mean, who wouldn’t be able appreciate Thomas’ motto of not letting circumstances get in the way of living richly?
How might that look like for you today?
If Thomas and Wayne do end up meeting up, perhaps serendipitously, on the other side, I can envision them, very sweetly, walking (or floating?) arm in arm, enjoying each other’s company, in appreciation, joy, and wonder.
I’ll leave you with one last sentiment my dad shared with others. When he would meet someone, he would say, “It’s my pleasure”, or “The pleasure is mine.”
I, and I believe those who crossed Thomas’ path, along with the universe itself, would say the same of knowing him…the pleasure is indeed, ours.