I attended the funeral of a friend’s grandfather today. The dearly departed had lived 87 years and spent 63 of those years married to the love of his life. It’s natural, I think, at times like this to think about our own lives. As the priest recounted anecdotes from the man’s life, he told of unending dedication to and boundless love of family. It was a story that my friend told at the luncheon after the funeral, however, that perfectly summed up the amount of love this man had in his heart.
My friend’s grandpa, Ernesto, was from Italy. His family were farmers, as were most families in the area where he lived. Ernesto met and fell in love with Maria. In those days in Italy, it was part of the courting traditions that the parents chaperoned all “dates” with the youngsters. On one occasion, Maria’s parents invited Ernesto and his parents to dinner. This was a momentous occasion as the young couple would need the blessing of both sets of parents if the relationship was to blossom into marriage. A nervous Ernesto arrived, with his parents, at the home of Maria and her family. After pleasantries were exchanged, the group gathered at the dinner table. A summer breeze blew through the open windows stirring the tantalizing aromas of Italian country cookery.
Ernesto and Maria delighted in how well the the meal was going. Ernesto had seated himself near one of the open windows so that he might watch the object of his affections as the sun lit up her beautiful face. He marveled at how her smile outshone the golden rays of sunlight. Everything was absolutely perfect, for the moment anyway.
Ernesto had been so captivated by Maria that he had not touched his spaghetti. Upon realizing this, he looked down at his plate and was horrified. A fly had been drawn to the enticing smells in the air, flown through the open window and landed right in Ernesto’s spaghetti. What was he to do? Drawing any kind of attention to the tiny intruder would surely embarrass Maria and her family. The date had been going so well, Ernesto was not about to let a freeloading fly ruin everything. He took one more look at Maria and felt the warmth of their mutual love. Then, Ernesto did the only thing he could do. He plunged his fork into the noodles, spun the fly up into the pasta ball and ate it! No one else was the wiser and the meal went on to great success and eventually the two families became one when Ernesto and Maria were married.
Ernesto knew back then the secret to having a lasting, loving relationship. Sacrifice is sometimes necessary. There will be times when we will have to do things we may not want to do in order to save the ones we love from embarrassment, anger, and sadness. We will definitely encounter small things with the potential to ruin larger ones. In those instances we may have to swallow something nasty, including words, to preserve a greater happiness.