I’ve often joked with Gary that he is my better half. While I am quick to crack skulls together, Gary is perenially optimistic that it can be worked out, that a person can change, that there is good in everyone, to give someone the benefit of the doubt. I gave up on people long ago and have to come realize how much I can learn from him.
Since most of you have never met Gary, let me point out that he is nearly 7 feet tall and can strike an imposing figure if you don’t know his gentle heart. He laughs and tells people, “I’m the nice one; it’s her you have to worry about.”
It’s true. I hope before I get any more cynical than I already am, that I can find some faith in people the way he does.
I will never forget when someone asked Gary if, hypothetically, he ever gained sole custody, would he keep the kids from their mother to let her know what it feels like? Gary looked offended at the idea and said, “No. The kids need her.” Simple as that.
Even in our current situation, Gary is still the same Gary, forcing me to think and redesign some of my long-held beliefs. I have been a card-carrying member of the “lock-’em-up-and-let-’em-rot” mentality about convicts for a long time, having never been shoved face-to-face with a human being going through the ordeal. Gary told me about a young man who turned to him in jail, found comfort in his words, and promised to make changes when he was released. When he was released, he stopped at the door, dropped his roll of belongings, and turned back to find Gary…and gave him a hug. Then he grabbed his things and walked out the door without looking back. How do I align that with the cold-hearted, no-good criminal in my stereotypes?
I used to say Gary is naive. I’d smile protectively and say it’s a good thing I’m so ball-breaking, to make up for him being such a pushover. I realize now I had it backwards. It’s a good thing Gary has so much heart and a loving spirit, and I still have a lot to learn from him.
*Ying-yang kittens photo courtesy of pbase.com/beaucroft*