Monday, December 2, 2013

Legacy of Love

For the past 20 years or so, my family has been blessed to have the best neighbors anyone could ask for. They’ve been more than neighbors or friends. They are family. And in thinking about that for the past few days, there was a man in this family that I can think of only one word to describe. LOVE. That is Pat Castaldo’s legacy. He loved wine. He loved life. He loved his precious wife, Lena, he loved his family. And I’m grateful to be able to say he loved my family as well. My children grew up calling him “Grandpa.” And he adopted my husband and me as his godchildren. He would talk about it almost every time we saw him, and he even wanted to take us to the church to make it official. I could imagine Luis with the waters of baptism dripping down his face!
But we didn’t need to make it official at a church. It was official in our hearts. He was our godfather. And when I think about that word, godfather, and I think about Pat Castaldo, the word takes on a whole new meaning.
Pat’s legacy of love exemplifies the love of Father God. The love he poured out was the purest, most unconditional love I’ve ever known in a human. And like God, it didn’t matter if that love was returned to him. He loved anyway.
In all the time we’ve known him, we never heard him utter a negative word, or speak unkindly of anyone. Ever! Pat was the life of every family gathering. He made everyone in the room smile with his contagious joy, and the love he voiced toward one of those in attendance would inevitably end up in a song! Whether by song or by open declarations, he freely expressed his love to his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, and his godchildren.  And each one would know that they were genuinely loved.
If anyone ever wanted to have a taste of what God’s love is like, all they needed to do was to know Pat. Even for a short period. Because if he knew you, he loved you. Period. It wasn’t contrived. It wasn’t pretense. It was as genuine a love as you’d ever experienced.
And that’s what this kind, gentle man has left us. A legacy of love freely poured out over his family and friends like the sweet, red wine in his glass. A love and a legacy I’m so very glad my family was blessed to experience.  A love I know I’ll dearly miss until we see him once more on the other side of eternity. I hope and pray that by his example, I've learned to show others a fraction of the love of God that Pat did every day of his life.