It was a very hot and muggy late morning when my sound man and I approached the front door of his home. I had met him previously while taking a bus trip to Tampa to view the Princess Grace memorabilia. This day, we had made special arrangements to interview him for my radio show in his home to save him the trouble of traveling to my studio and, since he was a member of my Community, it was more convenient all the way around. The first thing that I noticed was his smile and warm demeanor. After inviting us in and while the sound equipment was being assembled, he introduced me to his lovely wife, Helen, who was sitting on the lanai reading a book. He graciously offered us something to drink and we sat at the kitchen table which served as our “studio” and chatted previous to the formal interview.
Once the interview began, he insisted that he be called “Herb” and he began talking about the “goings on” in the neighborhood. Something else that I noticed immediately was that he was extremely positive in all of his remarks. At one point, he noticed that I was looking at his black-and-blued arm which he explained was the result of regularized kidney dialysis treatments that came about as a result of an accidental infection that he experienced from an injection. He tended to depict his weekly jaunts to the hospital as more of a fly-in-the-ointment type of nuisance than a problem … again demonstrating a more-than-positive attitude.
I encouraged him to describe the occurrence resulting in a bullet wound to his head during the Battle of the Bulge when the projectile penetrated his helmet and head. The helmet is in a museum in Punta Gorda, Florida. He had relayed the story several times but he patiently answered my request ending with his smiling broadly and lightly tapping his head to indicate the metal plate surgeons placed in there. He said that he didn’t know how he survived that incident but concluded that “the Good Lord wasn’t ready to take me.” He talked about his many and varied activities over the years including his having held a political office in Dunedin, Florida. He was very active in Community affairs and events as well as being very active socially. He espoused a deep religious faith. He spoke lovingly of his wife as if they had just married and described their first meeting. She was a baton-twirler in a parade that he was spectating and she “stood out in the crowd.” As she neared his viewing spot, she dropped her baton at his feet. When she came to pick it up he remarked on her beauty and the rest was history.
When I was finished with the interview, I came away feeling that I had known Herb for many years. The last time I saw him was the day before his passing at the local gym. He was starting a program in order to strengthen his legs by his physician’s directive. I kiddingly told him “you look MARVELOUS” and he displayed that unmistakable grin as we briefly chatted. He passed the next day while doing some work in anticipation of his granddaughter’s upcoming visit. He was always thinking of others and received a special sense of gratification from doing so. I don’t believe that Herb had an enemy in the world. If he mistakingly paid a visit to hell, the devil would throw him out because he would be too positive. With all of what most would determine as being a series of misfortunes, Herb truly practiced “turning lemons into lemonade.” He will be sorely missed by all who knew him whether as an acquaintance or a close friend. He lived a good and full life. My love and most sincere condolences go out to Helen, her children and grandchildren for their loss. I am sure that the myriad of memories they will recount will help them in their hours of grief. So long, my friend … until we meet once again.
Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.