When the world, and even loved ones let you down, it’s always good to remember who never has. I hope everyone has people in their life which that applies to. Here are the people I’ve known who have had the greatest positive impact on my life.
1. Lana and Larry
The parents I chose.
Not only do I consider these people the greatest people I’ve ever known, but I’ve also been blessed to have known them longer than anybody else in my life. I met them when I was two years old. They were close friends of my first foster family, and I saw them about once a week (at church). Five years later, they would become my foster parents as well, when I was no longer able to stay with the first. Unfortunately, they were not able to adopt me, but despite this, they were the parents I chose. All the parental figures I had before them and after them were huge disappointments.
Lana and Larry were the only parental figures I ever had who took the time to sit me down and just teach me something, or just take the time to simply hang out. They’d talk to me personally, or all of us kids together. Every night in their house, they’d have all us foster kids sit in the living room and they’d read us a devotion (which is a true-or-fictional story with a Biblical meaning behind it), take prayer requests, pray for us, then we’d go to bed. We weren’t just foster kids to them; they treated us like their own. They taught us the importance and the value of loving others, acceptance, patience, and wisdom.
I only lived with them for a total of two-and-a-half years, but in that short time, they were better parents than what I’ve seen from most parents, foster care or otherwise. To put it another way, they did in just 2 1/2 years what most parents can’t even do half as well in 18 years.
They stayed in my life even after I was adopted. They remain in my life to this very day. Despite having countless grandkids ranging from toddlers to teens, they still make time for me. I really, honestly, don’t know where I’d be in life without them.
2. Mitch (and his family)
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that all families (immediate or extended) are dysfunctional. Only people in denial about their own family’s glaring problems say this. That isn’t only false, it’s also absurd. I would say at least half of all families get along just fine. My personal view is the number is more like 75% of all families. People tend to think that all families are dysfunctional because every family has imperfections, but it’s mainly because the worst 25% draw a lot more attention to themselves, both socially and legally, and they drag other people into their own family drama.
What I do believe in this regard, though, is that most families are concerned more with themselves than they are with outsiders. And that’s perfectly okay. In fact, I’d say that’s healthy. Which brings me to talk about my best friend and his wonderful family. They are more than just not dysfunctional, and they’re not selfish.
Mitch and I have been friends since we first met over 12 years ago. He is my oldest and most loyal friend. This is not because I’m special, it is because Mitch is a selfless person at heart. He is one of the nicest people you could ever know. When the time calls for it, he can have intelligent discussions, he can be weird (like literally Ace Ventura-weird), and he can simply be there for you.
His entire family is like this. I envy him and his family immensely. He and his family have never clashed, in any way, for as long as I’ve known them. He says he thinks the last time any of them had an ‘argument’ was when he was around 6 years old, and that was only because he got a privilege taken away for something and he complained. I almost feel unworthy to have any relation to this family, because I’m nowhere near that perfect.
About 7 years ago, I was in a bad spot in life, and my adoptive parents refused to help me because I was no longer a Christian (I can only WISH that was not the real reason). I wasn’t doing drugs, or anything illegal for that matter. So, Mitch and his family chose to help. My adoptive parents refused to even teach me how to drive. Mitch and his family gave me a place to stay, they taught me how to drive, they helped me get my first car, they taught me whatever skills they could teach so that I had more impressive credentials, and on top of all that, they were also good friends with whom I could talk to and hang out with. During this dark time in my life, we ate together, watched movies together, and things like that, like a real family does, even though I wasn’t a member of their family.
Mitch and I have clashed plenty of times in the past. We’ve both done things to the other that were extremely difficult to forgive. And yet, we are still in each other’s lives, and our bond is as strong as can be. We consider each other brothers. He considers me his kids’ uncle. (Neither he or his wife have a brother, so I really am the closest their kids have to an uncle, and I am honored.)
Not a perfect history as friends/brothers, and I blame myself for the majority of the times we’ve clashed, but we are nonetheless family. Mitch and his family have been reliable and loving even to an outsider like me, for what will soon be 13 years now.
(The cover image is Mitch and I in Ensenada, Mexico in 2007.)
3. Cristian and Jean
These two are friends I met through a mutual friend some 7 years ago. They’re not related to each other, but they are close like brothers, just like Mitch and I. Ever since I met them, they’ve been wonderful friends. I can’t recall a single time when I’ve wanted to hang out with them, or actually needed their help with something, and was turned down. Not once. Usually, they’re not free immediately, but they always make time down the road. They never ask for payment or favors in return.
Cristian is really the only person in my life who gets excited about whatever book I’m writing. He’s not just supportive, he’s always looking forward to it. That really helps me believe in myself, especially since I could never get that kind of enthusiasm from my own girlfriends or wife. (Mitch admits he doesn’t read much of anything.)
Jean has this supernatural ability to make everyone around him feel as happy as can be. Every single time he and I hang out, I’m always laughing my ass off from things he’s doing or stories he’s telling.
As far as I can tell, these two come from close, happy families. It really shows.
The only person on this list with whom I had a falling out. But that doesn’t stop me from respecting the man I once knew.
Tyler always had a strong sense of honor. He often talked about it. He had a love of Eastern philosophy, history and culture. Not to mention, he was a highly skilled martial artist, even back when I first met him when I was 15. He was the first, and really only, guy my age who believed in his principles to a religious degree. He was never deceptive, manipulative, or even self-serving. I respected that immensely about him.
I could go to Tyler for virtually anything, from simple advice or just someone to hang out with. Usually, I went to him for advice. I could even go to him for research regarding my books, when it comes to subjects like war and politics. Tyler was 11 months younger than me, and no, that never bothered me in the slightest. Age is just a number, as I’ve learned full-well by this point in my life. Oddly enough, and what always made me respect him even more, is the fact that Tyler just never seemed to do anything wrong. I can’t think of any one thing he’s done that I would deem a mistake. Well, except the following, but this is all a matter of opinion:
So, you might be wondering how we had a falling out. Well, simply put, he went to college for 5 years. I’m sure you can fill in the rest of the gaps from there. But for those who can’t, I’ll explain. While in college, he got indoctrinated with far-left progressive propaganda. He started believing women are oppressed (which is hilariously untrue), that women are just flawless beings in general, and things like that. One time he posted on his Facebook an image that said all men treat women like property, and I made the fatal mistake of saying “not all men” and some other things. That was when all hell broke loose and his army of feminist college friends turned him against me.
(Tyler always had a weakness for the whims and wishes of females.)
Other than that, I still respect him, I just can’t really bring myself to be in the life of anyone with far-left views, especially when they welcome their college friends to behave like an Antifa Twitter mob. I think once he’s in his 30s and gets out in the real world a bit more, he’ll come to realize that reality and far-left politics don’t match.
Still a great guy, though.
5. Father Peter
I’ve never been Catholic, but about 9 years ago, I met a man named Father Peter. He was native to Africa (don’t remember which country), and spoke with a thick accent. He and I had long conversations about philosophy. To be completely honest, I don’t remember much about what either of us said, except a sentence here and there. What I do remember is being amazed by his insight, even if I didn’t agree with it (he had a religious approach, after all).
He was also a very kind and patient man, and a just all-around compassionate, sympathetic person, naturally. I admit I have a soft spot for people like that. I met Father Peter at a time when I needed people to be patient with me, and that he was.
Even if I didn’t agree with him most of the time, I couldn’t help but respect his view of the world. He was someone who seemed to have truly found inner peace, like nothing could weigh him down. I saw him as the kind of man I want to be when I reach his age.
About a year ago, in my spare time one day, I went to visit him again, after having had no contact for about 7 years. But, I was told he had moved back to Africa, with no intention of returning here. So, I’ll never see the man again, but I’ll always remember him.
I was never very close to Sydney. That has always made me sad. Well, I’m not as sad about this anymore because she moved to England, and my reaction was:
Sydney is a lot like Mitch: Almost infinitely kind and patient. She and I have clashed once or twice before, mainly over politics and religion, but that was really only because she was trying to get ME to calm down and be just a tad less outspoken. I always admired Sydney’s ability to call me out whenever I needed it. None of the others on this list ever quite did that. It is necessary to do with people you love, from time to time.
Why were Sydney and I never close? I don’t know. We hung out sometimes (before she betrayed us), we had deep conversations, but those were always few and far between. We just lived very different lives, especially the fact that I’m an atheist and she’s a devout Christian. But then again, so is Mitch, so … who knows?