This morning I was informed I lost a kindred spirit this past weekend; Paul T. Pearsall, a man I’ve known for over 30 years. I guess you might consider Paul a friend of the family in an indirect way. He was my eldest sister’s best friend’s son, but he was more than that. Only three months separated us in age, yet Paul was much wiser than I could ever imagine. It wasn’t only his captivating wit that had people charmed; it was his genuine love for his fellow man that radiated whenever you spoke with him.
A lover of animals as well, Paul could always be counted on to provide some comic relief when all the dogs gathered around. Normally, I would only see Paul when there were large gatherings of some kind, which seemed to be on a regular basis at my sister’s house especially when her five daughters were young. Mary, Paul’s doting mother, brought Paul wherever she went and he so loved visiting with everyone. I don’t recall ever seeing a frown upon that man’s face. His laughter permeated the premises and no one left the event untouched by his warmhearted dialogues.
I recall a fairly recent account of Paul, who was confined to a wheelchair most of his life due to cerebral palsy, taking a trip along the streets of his town, unescorted. Maybe he just wanted to get out into the nice warm air on his own one evening, wheeling along without a care in the world, free as a bird. He had that capacity, you know, and a will to beat the band. Paul’s disability did not hinder him from standing up for himself, and he did so repeatedly. Yet how could you argue with such a sweet person who never told a lie his entire life?
When my nieces were all grown, they used to gather with their families at my sister and brother-in-law’s home for the holidays and I especially enjoyed spending an occasional New Year’s Eve with them. Mary would bring Paul by to ring in the holiday with everyone on the front porch; pots & pans clanging away. Oh, how he loved to see the excitement on everyone’s face as we welcomed a new year with smiles, kisses, hugs; plenty of love to go around. Just seeing the happiness on Paul’s face made us all appreciate what we had and how blessed we were to have the opportunity to spend time with one another.
No, I didn’t see Paul very often but that doesn’t negate the connection I felt with him. I envied his unconditional love for his fellow man. It was delightful to witness his happiness when the dogs jumped upon him, tails wagging joyously as they lapped his face in excitement. How simple and uncomplicated Paul made life seem. While he didn’t have full use of his legs, his arms were more than willing to bear his weight when he sat on the floor with us, eagerly engaging in casual conversation. Why can’t life be that undemanding, I often wondered? Nothing seemed to faze Paul, and if it did, I certainly could not discern it by his mannerisms.
As his mother grew older and weaker, you could tell it was more difficult to care for Paul. Now a woman in her 70’s, I applaud her years of undying devotion to her son. She has three other children who are married with families of their own and while they helped out with Paul as much as they could, it was still a difficult journey for a mother to endure. Yet she refused to place Paul in a home for someone else to care for. He was her son, her treasure, her life; and now he’s gone.
While I’m deeply saddened that Paul is no longer with us, I am certain he has found new happiness in the realm beyond our imagination. I grieve for his mother Mary, who will most likely experience a whirlwind of emotions. Gratitude and despair will frequent her for time to come. Fortunately she has many people around her for support. I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose a child, even more so, one who was disabled and needed constant attention. When someone spends the majority of their life preoccupied in the daily care of another person, especially their own child, and suddenly that person is gone, an enormous void occurs. Only time can heal a loss, if ever possible.
I will truly miss Paul. I’ll miss his laughter, charm, wit and generosity. It’s not often our paths cross with someone who is truly an unexpected inspiration; prompting me to think twice about my own shortcomings. Thank you, Paul, for blessing my life and the lives of those who knew you. You were not like the rest of us who often take our lives for granted. You were an innocent, without the flaws of fallacious humility and distant idealism that befalls many of us. Sleep well Paul. May God keep you in His loving grace.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” ~ The Beatitudes, Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:4