In the recent film, St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray as Vincent, his young neighbor, Oliver, has a school assignment to write about a real-life saint. (Spoiler alert: if you haven’t figured out his choice based on the title…). Vincent is described as a “misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran,” but Oliver sees kindness, generosity, and goodness beneath the crass exterior.

IMG_0538IMG_0531Last week I visited my mom and I would like to share with you my real-life saint. Sorry mom, not you. If you’ve had the experience of having one or both of your parents find a new partner (after death or divorce), you will probably agree it is not inherently easy. It has been very smooth for me to embrace my mom’s partner, John, because the man is a saint.

This is not a phrase I use easily – I even reserve mensch for the truly decent, kind, warm, real human beings of the world. John is mensch-on-steroids. He is 97 years old (my mom is 85 and I call him a “cradle-robber”) and his depleted hearing may serve as an advantage, but his ability to let all sorts of comments roll off his back is something to behold.

John is extremely loving and has taught me much about how to be a good person and a caring husband. I have a long way to go to embody his lessons and to realize a near conflict-free relationship. John listens. He doesn’t interrupt. He prioritizes the relationship. He lets go of being right. He declines the power struggle.

I told John that he is a role model. In saintly fashion, he was highly grateful for the compliment and bestowed generous words on me.

Who is your real-life saint? What can you learn from this person? How can you be more like him/her?

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