Monday, December 24, 2012

A Hero's Tradition - Merry Christmas

Disclaimer - This post is not education related and it contains photos of me holding alcoholic beverages and in a bathing suit.  If that disturbs you, move on. 


This is the ornament my best friend, Diana and her husband Mike, sent for Christmas along with a beautiful letter.  Here is the story behind it.  

Our friend, Artie Lopez, was killed in the line of duty in October.  Our world was forever changed.  He really was one of the sweetest, kindest guys - just like they said all over the news.  He would do anything for his friends.

In their letter, Diana and Mike asked for us to pass on Artie's tradition of popping in and hand delivering thoughtful gifts at Christmas "just because."  He would do this for his neighbors and friends. His acts of selflessness each year made him a "Christmas Hero" to many people.    Diana and Mike asked everyone they sent the ornament to, to be a "Christmas Hero" to someone "you just want to say thank you to."  And when you do, to tell them a little bit about Artie, the Christmas Hero.  

I think this is a beautiful way to keep his spirit and tradition alive.  He will always have a special place in our hearts. 

Here is my story of how Artie, touched my life.
We met years ago when Diana and Mike tried to set us up.  They kept telling me to look for him in the gym; that he went there all the time.  I ended up going up to a guy that I thought was him and said "Hi, I'm Erica, are you Artie?"  He said "No, but I could be if you want me to!"  Then one day this guy with a mega-watt smile came up to me and said "Are you Erica?"  I told him my story of mistaking him for someone else and he said he had done the same!  We became gym friends and eventually he asked me out on a date.  He was such a gentleman and we had a great time.  He told me that he wanted to be honest with me and that he was not looking to get married or have kids.  He did not think it was fair in his line of work.  I told him I appreciated his honesty and that I was looking to get married and have kids.  I was sick of dating guys that never wanted to get serious.  So, I suggested, "How about we just be friends?"  

As friends we had good times.  He would come sit by my parents' pool during the summer.  He knew I loved to read, so he came with a book - Everyone Poops.  He joked that he was only halfway through but was getting to the good part.  He had also become friends with my mother at the gym and she would fawn all over him -serving him snacks and giggling.  She had a major crush!

He would always check on me and whenever I needed help he would come. We bonded over both being single homeowners, who bought houses at the height of the market.

He was so proud of all my accomplishments, yet he never flaunted his own.  It was not until I was at his wake, did I see all of the awards and achievements he had accomplished.  I had no idea that he was the youngest officer to be on the ESU (emergency services unit).  He had told me about one of the tests he failed (treading water for five minutes- he could not swim), while taking the test to be an ESU officer.  I never let him live that down and he was a good sport about it.  Still, he never bragged about all his amazing accomplishments.

He was very protective of me with the guys I dated and I would give him appropriate space when he was dating someone.  At times, it was really hard just being friends with him - look at him!  And now looking back, I have such regret.  Why did I have to be so hard-headed?  Isn't better to have loved and lost then to never have loved at all?  Maybe it was just not meant to be.  Or maybe it was a life lesson that I needed to learn.  Either way, I am grateful that he was in my life, even if just for a little while.

What I take from knowing Artie and loving him as a friend:

  • Life is short...tell everyone how you feel and that you appreciate them
  • Smile!
  • Be generous
  • Laugh
  • Work your ass off at the gym! (he was always at the gym and I think he motivated me to go more -just so I could stop and chat with him)

Artie and I boating - He and I just got our own boats this summer 
(That is my dad's little boat that I used to drive in the background.)

Thank you for reading this and letting me share with you about Artie.  I carried on his tradition this year.  I hope you will take the time to randomly thank someone and tell them that you appreciate them.  Life is way too short.

I appreciate all of you followers.  Every comment and/or feedback note gets read.  I love knowing that in some small way, I make a difference in this world.  Merry Christmas to you and your families!!!


24 comments:

  1. Merry Christmas to you and thank you for sharing such a wonderful story.

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  2. He sounds like an incredible person!
    -Chrissy
    Firstgradefoundme.blogspot.con

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  3. Thank you for sharing...Everything you said is so true. Artie was lucky to have you in his life, too. RIP, Artie.

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  4. One f the most touching posts to read at this time of year! A person who served others, in every way and wanted nothing more than to have that passed on. Wish there were more of these heros! Tears swelled of joy, a warm heart, what else would anyone want to read? Thanks for reminding us, of the great ones.

    Amy Howbert
    Little Miss Organized
    amyhowbert1@gmail.com

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  5. Thanks for your post. Your transparency and heartfelt eloquence is warming!

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  6. Thank you for sharing Erica. Merry Christmas!

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  7. I'm so sorry for the loss of your beautiful friend. Artie is a great example of how one person can touch so many lives in so many different ways. Thank you for sharing your touching story. Merry Christmas to you!

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  8. I'm so sorry for your loss this year!! I hope 2013 brings great things for you.

    ❀Jodi
    Fun In First

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  9. WOW, what an amazing story!! What a great way to remember someone special. Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

    Laurie
    www.firstgradelyonsden.blogspot.com

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  10. I love this. Thank you for sharing Artie with us! Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

    :) Kelly

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  11. Thank you for sharing his story.......Merry Christmas.

    Angela
    The Daily Alphabet

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  12. If only everyone could be an Artie or have an Artie in their life. You are blessed. Thanks for a lovely post.

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  13. Thank you for giving a glimpse into his remarkable life...it's amazing how some people touch our lives so deeply. I'm sending you a hug right now dear Erica.

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  14. Thanks for sharing about Artie and I'm sorry for your loss. I learned those same lessons a couple of years ago. I think it's amazing that you all are carrying on his memory in such a special way :)

    Jessica Ehlinger
    The Curious Catfish

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  15. Erica, what a moving story.... what a loss of such a dear friend. May his memory forever bless you!

    Cindy

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  16. What a beautiful story. I am so glad you were able to carry on his tradition. I'm sure you will always remember what he taught you.

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  17. Oh Erica, I am so sorry for your loss. I read the story on him and couldn't help but feel the loss of this beautiful man. You are truly blessed to have known him and I hope you can take some comfort in knowing you have a guardian angel watching over you in Heaven. God Bless.

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  18. What a touching story...Thank you for sharing and continuing the giving of yourself just like Artie! You made his life better by being his friend!
    Jenny

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  19. Thanks for sharing this story! I love hearing about true heroes in this world. Artie sounds like he was a hero in his work as well as in life! We need more people in this world like him!!!

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  20. Erica, Such a super sweet story about a super sweet friend. Treasure the moments you had with him and live with no regrets.

    Wishing you peace and happiness in the coming year.
    Thanks for sharing so much of you on your blog.

    Tammy
    The Resourceful Apple

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  21. Oh Erica, I am SO sorry for your loss! He sounds like a wonderful guy. What a wonderful way to remember him. {hugs}
    Jenn
    Finally in First

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  22. So sorry for your loss! **HUGS** You are right, life is too short. We should be thankful for each moment we have for one another here on earth. We are blessed in so many ways. I hate to hear of accidents, tragedies, etc. My heart aches for all those who must go on without their loved one. I will say an extra prayer tonight for peace and comfort for you and his family!

    ღDeAnne
    First Grade and Fabulous

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  23. what a great way to keep his love going and going
    and what a great post to share with all of your followers... as hard as it was to write I am sure :)
    chin up... sending you hugs :)

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