Letters and Diary Non-Fiction posted May 18, 2017

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Pecan Pie

by michaelcahill

Manny Mora R.I.P.

There's a great deal of joy that comes with this ability we have, this skill with words, this knack for putting them together in a clever way or even a profound way at times. What a treat to watch someone read your words and hear them laugh, see them wipe a tear, maybe just sigh or nod their head in agreement.
There is a responsibility inherent to us wordsmiths. Many ignore it, but some of us take it to heart. We are the historians of the little worlds in which we reside. We may not be famous or even well known in our community, but we are usually the laureate of our family.
Usually it's something simple like, "help me write a nice note on Grandma's birthday card", or "I need something clever to say at Bill's wedding, I'm giving the toast". But then, there are those serious times, those times of unexpected death or even expected death. Follows the funeral and the need to sum up a life and make sense of it. There is great pressure, usually self-inflicted, to make it memorable for these are the last words spoken on behalf of this person. It is a rather solemn thought.
In any case, I've always taken this aspect of writing to heart. I do try and tell the story of people who have passed, especially if I feel no one else is going to do so. I'm not saying everyone should feel this way, just that I do.
I was asked to speak at my friend, and client's, funeral and sing a song. His name was Manuel Mora.

Manny shot his big mouth off and told his family I could sing. HA! He didn't mention my singing heyday was a while ago, as in a few years, well ... decades if you must know. Well, I'm often roped into such things, so no big deal other than singing without a band is the ONE thing in the world that scares me. I don't know why, it just does. I have zero stage fright in front of thousands if I have a band with me. Alone, even in front of a few friends, terror.
Manny loved Amazing Grace. Good enough, I knew it and I guess I pulled it off okay. Did I mention I was terrified?
Manny was young, in his thirties, and his death was a shock. He wasn't a healthy man, but still, his death was unexpected. He contracted pneumonia and simply did not recover. He was quite mentally ill with schizophrenia and heard voices and hallucinated. He had some awfully strange ideas about how his body worked which we all just went along with. He explained the artery in his leg controlled his brain, so it had to maintain a good blood flow or he'd pass away. There were other factoids he informed us of along the same line. Rather entertaining to us and harmless.
He was a great cook although everything he cooked was a bit short of healthy cuisine. He weighed three hundred pounds but carried it well. He was friendly and made people laugh.
He was thoughtful as well which is unusual for one in a position of being cared for. Most psychiatric clients and those in physical distress are understandably self-centered. Manny was not. He never asked for anything and was always helpful.
This was the eulogy 
I offered for my friend, Manny Mora:


Hi, everyone

Some of you I know, and many I don't. But we all knew Manny and that bonds us together closely this afternoon. The air is filled with memories and thoughts, and yes sorrow burdens our hearts. Now, you know Manny wouldn't like that at all. So, I want everyone to close your eyes now. Take a look at his face, his smile, his voice saying, "Cheer up, it's just life", we've all heard him say that, haven't we? Feel him walking amongst us now. You better be smiling or you know he'll slap you upside the head.
Now, with those smiles still there, open your eyes and greet this moment the way Manny would want you to. Yes, better. He approves.
You know, Manny bought me a pecan pie not too long ago. Yep, pecan. It wasn't a day-old half price apple pie from Walmart. AND it wasn't a little on sale pecan pie either. Nope, it was an extra-large top of the line pecan pie, fresh as can be. I guess it doesn't sound like much to you. A nice gesture, yes, but not a new car or the like. But, I've got to tell you, as a caregiver, it's a cold day when anyone gives me anything. It's just the nature of my job to give. It's what I'm supposed to do. And the people I take care of ASK for things. You name it, if they need it they ask for it. Honestly, it doesn't enter their minds to GIVE me something. That pie meant the world to me. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. But, such was Manny. He always did such things. It was just who he was.
When I told people the sad news about my friend, the same word kept coming up. Everyone said the same word. The word was, "good". They all said, Manny was a good person. Good. Isn't that just a stunning way to be remembered. What good is being remembered for being rich or famous? You don't take any of that with you. But "Good", I'm certain is always a part of you wherever you go.
We just have difficulty with our Earthly thinking where cars and houses and bank accounts seem to mean so much. But they don't mean a thing, do they.
Can you imagine the reception Manny is getting in his new home? A man who is known as good. A man whose measure as a human being is good.
I can see the scene unfold. Manny walking up to the gates in all his humility. He's probably wondering what awaits him. He probably has a human earthly mindset. But behind those gates, a million spirits are all aglow whispering, "He's here", "It's him". And as the gates open the trumpets sound and a roar erupts as a good man is greeted by those who know the value of good.
Yes, Manny will be just fine. And for us, well, we'll have to carry on without that bright light. But we can best honor him by learning from him what is important. Let's all be good in everything we do. Let's live a life people will say, when we are finally done, was good.
Blessings to you all.


Non-Fiction Writing Contest contest entry


Note: I do have permission to speak candidly of Manny's condition and use his name from his family.

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