When I was growing up in Southern CA, my dad would always go to a little Italian store called Carniello's Market. I remember that store, the squiky screen door, the smells of fresh bread, Italian sasuage and cheese, the old wood floor and the hollow sound it made as you walked across it, the counter top so tall that I could hardly reach to top, the very big cash register but most of all I remember Mr.Carniello. He was an older gentleman who spoke broken English which for me was sometimes hard to understand but every time I visited the store Mr. Carniello would asked me, have you been a good boy, are you minding your mama and papa, are you being good to your vicino's (neighbors). I would always answer yes, I'm trying, he would smile real big, rub my head and give me a piece of candy and I would thank him.
Mr. Carniello pasted away when I was 8 or 9 and I remember how empty the store felt without him there. His sons took over and they left a bowl of candy on the counter for the kids of the neighborhood that would still come in. I remember standing in front of that bowl of candy looking up at it and asking myself, have I been a good boy, am I minding my mom and dad, am I being good to my neighbor's, and if I could answer yes I would take a piece of candy.
Today I am 51 and I often think of Mr. Carniello and those three questions. But the hole point to this is, He gave me candy. Such a seemingly little thing but for almost a half century after his passing, I still think of him often. I wonder if he knew the impact he would have on the lives he touched or if he just loved everyone for the sake of love.
For most of us its hard to imagine that a warm smile, a pat on the head, a piece of candy and three simple questions could have such an impact on a life but it did mine. Even in the darkest part of my life I would think back and hear those words. They would take me back to a more innocent time in my life were I was field with peace and happiness. It took a while for me climb out of the pit I had dug for myself, to realize I didn't have to suffer or cause pain. I just had to answer three questions. Am I being a good man, Am I taking care of my mom and dad, Am I doing good for my neighbors. When I could answer yes to all, I found the peace and happiness that I had lost so many year before.
It doesn't take much to touch a life as long as it comes from your heart. A warm smile, a little conversation, a pat on the head and maybe a piece of candy here and there. It wont fix all the worlds problems, but it will change lives, it changed mine. And who among us isn't capable of such a simple act?
"Have you been a good boy? Are you minding your mama and papa? Are you being good to your vicino's?"
Yes Mr. Carniello, I'm still trying. Thank you.
Blessings to all