By Richard Mabey Jr.
In this first chapter of this new column, “Journey to Truth,” I’ve chosen to tell a simple, true story of a young man who passed by my Gate House, every weekday. Living in a gated community in Central Florida, for several years now, I have worked as a Gate Guard now for about six years. The story of Romero is very near and dear to my heart. It is a classic example of how simple acts of kindness can come back to you, tenfold.
It was in January of 2014, when I was working at the southernmost section of the gated community that I live in, in Central Florida, that I first met Romero. This was a section of the gated community that was under construction at the time. At that time, I began my work shift at six in the morning. Each weekday morning, between 6:00 and 6:15, Romero would drive by my Gate House, in his dear old pickup truck.
Romero was all of 19. He once told me his age, in one of our many early morning conversations. Romero was originally from Mexico and he worked as a Laborer on the section where they were building new homes. Romero had a Crucifix hanging from the rearview mirror of his windshield. He had a Holy Bible wedged between the windshield and his dashboard, on the driver’s side of his faithful, old pickup truck. We would often talk about the importance of having faith in God.
In time, Romero and I got to be friends. Romero would stop and talk to me for about five minutes every day. I remember how Romero’s face would light up when he talked about his girlfriend, Maria. Well, one Friday morning, Romero stopped by my Gate House and announced that he was going to ask Maria to marry him, on Saturday night.
I asked Romero if he had talked to Maria’s Dad yes. He told me that he had gotten permission from Maria’s father, to ask Maria to marry him. Romero was so excited, as he talked to me about Maria. He was nervous and anxious as to how Maria would respond to his proposal. I told Romero that I would pray for him. He smiled, thanked me, waved goodbye and drove off to his work site.
The following Monday morning came. Romero drove up in his old pickup truck. He didn’t have to say a word to me. I could tell by the expression on Romero’s face, what had happened. With tears in his eyes, Romero told me that Maria had turned him down. I told Romero that I was truly sorry. I simply told him not give up. That if he truly loved Maria, to not be discouraged.
Sadly, within a month or so, Romero and Maria broke up. I felt Romero’s pain when he told me that early morning. I felt like I was looking at myself, when I was Romero’s age. Here we were, from different cultures, we were of different generations, still I felt the pain that this fine young man was enduring.
I counseled Romero as well as I could, in his early three to five minute stops at my Gate House. I remember that I
told Romero that there were plenty of fish in the sea. I told him that any young lady would consider herself honored to go out on a date with him. I knew that my words did little to comfort Romero. But still, I did my best to bring hope to the young man’s heart.
The Friday before Father’s Day arrived. Romero drove up to my Gate House in his old pickup truck. He handed me the very card that I’ve included in this column. Romero simply said to me, “Mr. Richard, this is for you. A gift for you.”
The card was a Father’s Day Prayer Card. It stated that I would be prayed for at the upcoming Father’s Day Mass at Romero’s church. I was deeply honored. I told Romero that the good Lord had not graced me to be a father. Romero’s reply dearly touched my heart.
Romero simply said, “Mr. Richard, you’re like a father to me.”
I nearly cried. I got choked up. I thanked Romero. He smiled. He drove off to his work site.
In the early Fall of that year, I got transferred to one of the Gate Houses in the northern section of my Gated Community. After I got transferred, I never saw Romero again. I never got his phone number or asked him for his email address. I had only gotten a few days notice of my transfer. It’s just the way life is at times.
I think of Romero, from time to time. Somehow and some way, I made an impact on that fine young man’s life. I know that Romero had a positive affect upon my life. I often wonder how he is doing.