Published The Signal Newspaper - November 28, 2012
“It’s a Wonderful Life” has always been one of my favorite movies, and the older I get, the more I can relate to its life lessons and subtextual meanings.
A major theme of the movie is helping others in need. George’s father starting the building and loan; George running the building and loan after his father’s death; George helping Violet when she needed a few bucks; and most importantly, the moving scene at the end when all of Bedford Falls comes together to donate money when $8,000 was misplaced by Uncle Billy. That included Sam Wainwright, who wired and said he was willing to send up to $25,000 if necessary.
Every once in a while, the universe delivers me a “It’s A Wonderful Life” moment. Most recently, that moment arrived after we experienced a sudden death of a family member, Cameron Morad, who was 24 years young.
The entire family experienced every emotion possible: shock, disbelief, anger, sadness and so on. But with a death quickly comes a very large “to-do” list: memorial and burial services, gathering and moving personal items, travel and accommodations for friends and family members — the list is endless.
Within hours, offers of help poured in from everyone. Family members, close friends and friends of friends — people we didn’t even know.
At first, I politely thanked them and said I would let them know. I had never been this involved in the death of anyone before and had no idea what we might need.
Then food started to arrive.
I always considered it a bit of a cliché to bring food to the grieving family, and I never understood why people did that until our loss.
On the night of the passing, we unexpectedly had 20 to 30 people at any given time at our house grieving, consoling and sharing. Unfortunately, we only had fishy crackers and bottled water to offer for refreshments. No one was terribly hungry, but comfort food would have been helpful.
Then, out of nowhere, a close family friend came over with a bunch of Subway sandwiches, chips and pretzels. Within an hour, another set of close friends brought muffins, cinnamon rolls and other baked goodies that provided quick snacks and breakfasts that ultimately ended up lasting a week.
Soon I realized we never could have shopped, cooked, fed and cleaned for that many people if wasn’t for our friends and family members.
The next day, a friend called saying they were going shopping and asked if we needed anything. At first, I couldn’t think of anything, and then my wife mentioned a ham.
That seemed like a great idea! Warm up the ham, get some salad and side dishes; easy comfort food, not to mention leftovers.
For the following week, at various times, we had that ham for breakfast (along with the muffins and cinnamon rolls), lunch and dinner.
Days before the service, family started pouring in from all corners of our state. Our aunt forced my wife to take her shopping, and they came back with enough food to feed an army. And this time when the army arrived, we were ready with lasagna, chicken, salad and a vegetable platter.
On the day of the service and burial, which was a very long day, we hadn’t even considered what we might have for dinner that evening. Fortunately, our close friends brought more than 40 pieces of fried chicken, dinner rolls, beer and a bottle of whiskey.
With 14 people bunking in our modest home, the chicken was a welcome dinner and suitable lunch the next day. There was no leftover whiskey.
Even the day following the burial, a friend of the sister of the deceased, with two small children in tow, brought over pasta, sauce, salad and garlic bread; just enough to feed the remaining 12 people in our home one last time. Hopefully, she knows how much we all appreciated the effort.
We weren’t being bailed out of financial ruin or recovering from a natural disaster, but like in the movie, without being asked, our friends and family came through for all of us grieving the loss of a young man who had touched so many.
Once again I was reminded that in the dark, troubled times, it can truly be a wonderful life. Like Clarence, I’m sure Cameron got his wings.
Brian Springer is a resident of Canyon Country.