Italy, Ivan, & Irvin
If you're new to this place, let me introduce you to our dear, dear friend, Leonard. Below are some posts I've written over the years about this loving, noble man.
Leonard passed away in early 2020. I miss him almost as much as I miss my own sweet mother. He keeps me company even now as I tell this story.
Just before he died, Leonard told me of some special visitors that had flown down from Baltimore to spend AN AFTERNOON with him.
"Italy" (Leonard pronounced: "It-ly") was Leonard's lifelong best friend. Italy made a very special request to his two sons, Ivan and Irvin. He asked that upon his death, they would go to Texas to see his friend, Leonard, and thank him for being such a dear friend.
This last wish reminded me of one of my favorite scenes of the old mini-series, Lonesome Dove. After herding cattle from Lonesome Dove (which is about as far south in Texas as you can go) all the way to the northern border of Montana, Gus (Robert Duvall), was wounded by an arrow. The doctor amputated Gus' right leg just above the knee but determined that in order for Gus to survive the growing infection, his left leg would have to be amputated. Gus chose death. One of his dying wishes was to be buried in Lonesome Dove. His best friend, Captain Call (Tommy Lee Jones), promised to take Gus' body home.
After Gus breathed his last breath, Call loaded the casket into a wagon, harnessed up a horse, and kept his promise. It was a two-thousand-mile journey through all kinds of weather and across often difficult terrain with rivers to be forged and the constant threat of Indian attacks. With a corpse in a wooden box. Along the way, someone asked Call why he had taken on this unpleasant task. Captain Call was a man of few words. His reply (spoken in Tommy Lee Jones' smooth Texas cowboy drawl):
Because he asked me to.
Italy slipped from this life in 2019. Sure enough, one day soon thereafter, Ivan called Leonard and said that he and his brother were coming to visit. They flew all the way from Baltimore, MD to Lubbock, TX to express their father's gratitude for Leonard's loyal friendship. They arrived one afternoon and flew out early the next morning.
Let that sink in. Both sons honored their father's request by honoring his best friend. They didn't flip a coin or play paper-rock-scissors to determine who would make the trip. They didn't simply "phone it in." They booked flights, a rental car, and a hotel room.
Because their father asked them to.
Leonard often said that some people SAY that they love you and some people SHOW that they love you. Italy, Ivan, and Irvin lived and breathed love. I don't remember the brothers' last name. I don't know their addresses. If I did, I would go pay them a visit to thank them for the great love they SHOWED for Italy and Leonard. Those brothers are true-blue, good--to-the-bone men.
I want to be that. A "Because Someone Asked Me To" person. Ask away, friend.