I am really sorry Gerardo...
Many years ago I was taught a lesson at someone else's expense.
My Father who was a very quiet, formal and disciplined man and I were walking to the only store in the village.
There they sold everything under one roof from pinto beans to gasoline to hard candies to envelopes.
From our home it was a pretty straight path to the center of town where the Samaniego's store was.
To get there we had to go by a run down saloon ran by a short and round old tough woman called Petra.
There was a man of about thirty years of age walking away from the entrance to 'El Sobaco," (why on earth anyone would name a bar "The armpit" I'll never know).
My Father had always spoke strongly against drinking and how bad it was for us.
So much so that no one in our family dared to drink even a beer in front of him or God forbid ever came home drunk... ever.
This one afternoon Gerardo had just made it out of "El Sobaco" and we were a few feet behind him as he staggered along.
My Father whispered, "See what drinking does to you?"
"All drinking does to makes one do and say ignorant things. Things that you will later regret and also makes you defenseless," he said sternly.
He then ordered me to go up to Gerardo and push him.
"Push him?" I remember being very confused, for my Father was also against violence of any kind. But I went ahead and did what I was being asked to do.
As we walked approached him, my Father motioned me to go on ahead.
I hesistated but then walked up behind Gerardo and called out his name.
As he turned around to face me I said nervously "Buenos Dias Gerardo."
Then I remember closing my eyes and running towards him and I pushed him as hard as I could up close to his chest... I was no more than eight years of age.
"Oooff!" he said loudly. Gerardo's eyes opened wide in shock and he yelled a lot of profanities my way, as he went flying off his feet and on to the dusty Avenida Insurgentes.
I froze there in shock as he laid flat on his back in the middle of the road.
I remember my Father quickly going over to Gerardo and helping him to his feet.
He then apologized profusely for my incredibly poor behavior.
I stood there confused and wondering what had just taken place.
He than took my hand once again and we slowly walked away, "See "mijo" what I was saying about drunks and drinking, even a child can beat you."
As I grew older I never drank in front of my Father and only once enjoyed a cold glass of beer before our Sunday afternoon ritual at the Bullfights (but I'll save those stories for another day).
Over the years I had thought about that incident and wondered about Gerardo.
I also hoped that I would have the opportunitiy to one day apologize to him in person.
Gerardo is now an elderly man, very thin and dishoveled and still staggers everywhere he goes.
I told him the story and he surprised me when the only thing he asked for was a hug in return.
I gently hugged him and told him how sorry I was for having pushed him to the ground many years ago.
He said he didn't remember ever having been pushed by a little boy and laughed as he told me "These days I don't need much help to fall off my feet."
This made me think about FORGIVENESS.
I believe that there isn't anything more confining, contstraining and all consuming then refusing
to forgive someone.
Even though forgiveness takes strength and moral courage.
Forgiveness challenges us to give up our negative thinking and allows us to see the possibility of a very different situation and the possibility of a better future.
Forgiving is daring to visualize a better tomorrow.
Forgiveness strengthens us.
Forgiveness builds our confidence and allows us to survive the situation and grow from it.
Forgiveness can end our mental and physical state of separation and will change misery into
happiness in a matter of seconds.
Forgiveness means choosing to let go and to move on.
Forgiveness is the ultimate form of love within the context of a personal conflict.
My Viejita was all forgiving - she reminded us never to forgive because we thought we had to, because a forced forgiveness was a selfish and worthless act of self- interest.
Forgiveness is freeing!
Forgiveness releases us from being imprisoned by our own negative judgments.
Forgiveness is not surrendering to someone but a conscious and personal decision to quit resenting them.
Anger and resentment she would say, "was like poison in our body."
Forgiveness therefore she explained, "was the medicinal cleansing that our bodies needed to be healthy."
"Furthermore anger and resentment," she would say, "were poisons, that if left inside of us would cause more illness and continued pain."
She said we should always look for ways to forgive.
"How else can we take in the poison and expect someone else to die?"
If anyone that had offended us didn't realize they had; they would more then likely go on with
their lives and we would be the only ones left to continue to suffer.
Forgiveness cleanses our soul of the resentment, anger or pain that not only affects us directly but often those around us.
Forgiveness helps us make peace not only with our perceived offenders but with our past.
Forgiveness and forgiving others is a very complicated process, one that involves our deepest sense of decency, empathy, humanity and wisdom.
Only through forgiveness will we experience true change and real personal growth.
I too have to make other amends on this day - my birthday.
Will you join me in forgiving someone today?
Make it a great dia!