Bruce Cooper – Commercial Fisherman, Husband and Father of Seven Children
Let me tell you a story…almost five years ago, I was standing beside my six siblings at my father’s funeral. Everyone – and there were many, many people who came to give their condolences and said, as they shook our hands or hugged us, “your father was a good man.”
I have never felt so proud of my father as I did in that moment. However, there were two individuals that epitomized who my father really was. Their names are Hank and Archie. Both part-time fishermen; part-time scavengers for any job they could find.
But what they found was our father. A man, who beyond all logic and reason, hired the most unsuitable, probably in common opinion, the two most unreliable guys you could ever hire. But our dad hired them anyway. I remember on many occasions when my dad’s fishing truck would pull in the driveway to drop off their catch for the day, seeing Archie and Hank’s silhouettes in the truck. We kids would snicker to ourselves: “Hey, look at the muppets in dad’s truck!” Those two scruffy-haired guys were to teach me a valuable lesson one day…
You know what I learned about my father and about life the day of his funeral? That in the end, Jewel was right, Only Kindness Matters. They were the two fellows who, when approaching my mother and the seven children of Harold Bruce Cooper, were not only saying, “your dad was a good man”; they were the only two men who were saying it with tears falling down their cheeks.
I knew then that it was my father’s kindness; his belief in them when no one with a sane mind would have believed in them; the chance, the opportunity that he gave them to work; to earn a living and an opportunity to gain self-respect, was what these two men would always remember about our father. They were the two men who I believe meant those words more than anyone else who attended our father’s funeral that day.
And my revelation? If our father taught us one thing, it was to reach out and be kind. My mother still retells a story one Christmas where my father gave all of our ‘present’ money away to buy turkeys for the men who worked for him.
Do you know where I learned to pull into a Tim Horton’s and buy the coffee and donut for the person behind me? My father. Do you know where we learned that when you have to decide between being ‘right’ and being a good person, always BE the good person? From our father.
So today, just as I made myself purchase someone’s coffee yesterday when I wasn’t in the mood – made me realize; that only KINDNESS matters in the end – and it must be extended – not for someone else’s sake, but our own – even when we don’t feel like it. I realize how important it is to set aside all of my silly thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and opinions and just be kind – because even though I argue, fight and disagree with people; my friends, my sisters, strangers…in the end… I hope that even two people – muppets or not – will show up at my funeral with tears in their eyes because I once, in this life, showed them even a bit of kindness.
Please tomorrow and the next day and next day, find, search for, take the opportunity to go out of your way – go so far as to say a prayer before you leave the house for God/Universe to put someone in your path that needs help or a bit of kindness – and then act on it. If you need some inspiration, listen to Jewel’s song – and have a wonderful day because you too, deserve to give yourself kindness today!