Bruce: "I tell you, those were the good old days Frank! They don't make 'em like that any more."
Frank: "Oh gee, I don't know Bruce. These days the world's a different place you know. We grew up in the 1930s. By the time the forties had rolled round the world was a completely different place. All I'm saying is you can't just sit here and wait for everything to roll round back to when you were down there. You'll be waiting all of eternity."
Bruce: "Well, we've got eternity to wait don't we Franky-boy! Hey? Ha! Ha!"
Frank: "Ha! Ha!"
Bruce: "Ah Joyce, when you're ready old girl I'll have another. And one for Frank too, please."
Bruce: "Say, what's that sound? Haven't heard that around here before. It sounds... well... Heavenly."
Frank: "Say, that's awfully familiar, don't you think? Why, it's a mouth organ."
Bruce: "Look it's that fella sitting on the rocking chair outside. Who is he? I've never seen him before."
Frank: "Ah, that there is Gus Raccani. He got in two nights ago. You should have seen the parade! I've not seen anything like it in my eighteen years here! There were a lot of folks camped out ready to welcome him. Said he was a while coming. He'd had some business to take care of before he left."
Bruce: "He sure can get a note outta' that thing! I don't think I've heard anything quite so beautiful."
Frank: "You should tell him Bruce. You know the old line, if you think something good, say it!"
Bruce: "Yeah I think I'd like to get better acquainted with him. Seems like a good fella. Say, where's he from Franky? Looks like an Italian, like us!"
Frank: "They say he's born and raised in India old boy."
Bruce: "Raccani you say. That's Italian if ever I heard a name!"
Frank: "Maybe he has Italian heritage. In any case, it hardly matters where you're from when you're here does it Bruce? All that matters is he was a faithful man. By golly was he a faithful man! He had eight kids. The Catholics always did have the big families. He was married sixty-seven years and never spent a night away from his lass. That's special if you ask me! I was only with my wife for twenty-six years. Anyway, his wife's still there. Big family and all! They're taking care of her but she's doing it tough."
Bruce: "Well naturally! Sixty-seven years is a lifetime. What a remarkable story. You think he misses her?"
Frank: "Bruce. That's a tricky question. You never married so you probably don't understand. I've no doubt he loves her, with all of his heart. He's been playing that tune this whole time. Do you recognise it? It's Danny Boy. I can hear the love story the way he blows. You know how it goes though. He's a faithful man Bruce. He knows the score. He's just biding his time, basking in the presence of Jesus. He knows him and his own are spoken for, that his Kathleen will be by his side before too long. That's her name. After all, what better place is there to rest and to reside than right here? From here we can look down and see our loved ones; we can hear; we know. When I first got here I thought it the strangest thing that I had left my wife behind but yet I felt okay. Different but okay! In fact, I felt better than okay. I just had this knowing inside that it was all okay. I can't tell ya Bruce. It's just this knowing."
Bruce: "A knowing ay? Well I can sense it in his playing. There's a real calmness about it isn't there?"
Frank: "Story goes one day Gus was walking down the street in India with his wife and son when they're confronted by three fellas pokin' fun at Gus' wife because of her skin colour. She was fair you see. Anyway Gus whispers to his son, 'take your mother across the street boy.' Next thing you know there's these three guys lying horizontal on the floor. Not even a sound apparently. Was a real gentleman but when it came to his family he was quick to protect them."
Bruce: "Where'd you hear all this?"
Frank: "At the parade. Heaps of stories like it too. Real passionate man apparently."
Bruce: "Sounds like he has quite a fan base here ay?"
Frank: "Yes sir. For a few months leading up to the parade, they were camped out, waiting, watching, and sharing stories about his life. They all knew him in one way or another. Some from India, some from Australia. Spoke about sport. He loved his sport. I can tell you he was a national champion in hockey in India and was a pretty polished cricket player too. Worked as a stevedore in India and hauled some heavy loads. One night in his sleep he'd pushed his wife out of bed dreaming that a load was falling from the hauler on top of them!"
Bruce: "You've really paid attention."
Frank: "Hard not to Bruce. His faith was admirable. Here's the story I'll leave you with. When he was in hospital; his last day; in quite a bit of pain and discomfort; he wasn't saying anything. Then his grandkid says to him, 'Okay Pop, I'm going to pray.' Well word is he joined in! Articulated every single word of the Lord's Prayer with his grandson. That's the faith he had Bruce! Ain't nothing that was going to hold him back from praying!
Bruce: "Well that's my favourite story so far! I'm going to go and talk to him. Come on Franky-boy! This is one man I've got to shake hands with myself."
Frank: "Not man Bruce. Angel."
(OK Yes, I realise we don't turn into angels, it's what was said!)
Dedicated to my Pop, Augustus Clement Marconi Raccani (4.6.1920 - 5.8.2014)
David Luschwitz is from Zetland, Sydney and is passionate about equipping people to "Renew their Minds, Revive their Spirit and Reclaim their Lives."
Check out the vision and mission statement at www.davidluschwitz.com.
David Luschwitz' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/david-luschwitz.html