This is my toilet. The flapper was broken. A visit from the plumber this weekend rocked my world.
When Herman Bennett came to my door on Saturday, I instantly connected with his hippie Austin vibe. Herman is a singing, washboard-playing Jewish plumber with a degree in psychology. He has a long skinny braid that extends down to his waist, and he was wearing a white tee shirt with hand-stamped block letters across the chest that read “WORK SHIRT.” When we spoke on the phone to compare schedules for when he could swing by, I had mentioned I was going to a noon yoga class. So while he was fixing the flapper on my toilet, he mentioned that he has never met a yogi or someone who meditates that he doesn’t like. He told me that he was introduced to the world of meditation by his late wife, Becca.
By then he had finished his five minute fix of my toilet and we had moved to my kitchen table to listen to a CD of his music while he continued to tell me about Becca. Becca had been practicing Transcendental Meditation for years by the time she and Herman met. They met at one of his band’s gigs, and she later told him that the minute she saw him on stage, she knew she was going to marry him. Becca had her act together. Herman did not. In fact, at the time he was doing drugs pretty heavily. One day, after they had been dating for quite some time, Becca walked in on him shooting up in the bathroom. With a bit of desperation, he asked her if she was going to leave him.
She kneeled down, took his face in her hands, and said “I know you are in there Herman. And that’s the man I love. Come back to me.”
That’s the kind of woman she was. The kind of woman who helped Herman clean up his act and become the wise, creative man who was now sitting across from me at my kitchen table.
Herman and Becca were married for seven years, until she lost her battle with cancer. When she was diagnosed, she was told she had an 80% chance of beating it. She didn’t cry and didn’t feel sorry for herself. Instead, she set about working to beat the disease with determination and optimism. During her treatments and double mastectomy, she continued her dedicated meditation practice, and carried herself with peace and grace. Nothing seemed to rock her foundation. Not even years later when she and Herman were sitting in a doctor’s office together and they were told that she would not live much longer. She was going to die. Later that day Herman heard her crying in the other room. It was one of the rare times he had ever heard her cry. So he went into the room and took her in his arms to comfort her.
Becca smiled through her tears and said, “You think I’m crying because I’m sad.” She continued with, “I’m crying because I’m happy. I have you, I have my children, I have everything I’ve ever wanted in life…except for you keeping the house cleaner.”
Then, after a pause, she looked up at him and asked, “So what are you going to do with the rest of your life?”
Towards the end when she was in the hospital dying and in pain, she didn’t ask for anything, which made Herman want to give her everything.
True to Becca’s nature, her last words were words that continue to comfort Herman to this day. She opened her eyes, and with a moment of absolute clarity, she said “Hakuna Matata.” This is Swahili for No More Worries.
I haven’t stopped thinking about Becca for two days now. If I died today, would I be able to say I have everything I’ve ever wanted? No, I wouldn’t. And so I shouldn’t waste a minute longer breathing life into those parts of my life that are stagnant and unfulfilling.
And so it is that I must ask everyone, What are you going to do with the rest of your life?
**Herman Bennett’s music is eclectic with blues/rock/swing/Americana influences. You can buy his CD from his website.