Tina and I moved to the country in 1976 to live with an old friend who was getting up in years and needed our help. His name was Bill Hand. At 85 years old he had no immediate family left alive. He lived alone in his old farm house without heat, water or electricity and had barely enough to eat.
Although Bill had no money, he was not poor. He knew that he had everything he really needed. He had happiness and he was content. Bill was a remarkable man, generous and caring. Without enough food for himself, he still fed the wild birds that perched by his side every day. On the coldest winter mornings, with the snow falling outside, I could hear Bill playing his harmonica and singing happy songs as he was about to start a new day.
We worked hard together, gathering wood and taking care of his sheep and ponies who grazed on the hill outside of town. To see at night, we would light up candles we made during the day. As we sat up in bed, Bill would sit in his worn-out chair and tell us stories for hours about the old days gone by.
Bill walked slowly several miles each day with a wooden cane. He was never in a hurry... he didn’t need to be. He always wore a cheerful expression on his face. His frosty white beard, long coat and high boots made him look a little like Santa Claus. Bill always gave more than he received. He loved children although he never had any of his own. He was a friend to everyone. Then one summer night Bill walked up the hill to a grassy knoll, laid down under a starry sky, closed his eyes and died.
We learned a lot from Bill; he was a teacher in the school of life and will always be alive in our hearts. We started making candles when we lived with Bill and we’re still at it today. But, instead of making candles just to see, we’re making candles that warm the heart, just as Bill did.
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