We never met him. We did not know his name. He lived in our neighborhood but we had no idea where his house was. We knew nothing about him, but he was an icon in our area. I learned a passing motorist struck and killed him in the early morning hours of August 26, 2016. His death dealt a blow not only to me and my family but also to the residents in our immediate area.

I later learned through news reports that people knew him as “Gary.” Gary, you see, was either totally blind or nearly blind. It took several years for our family to realize that he was visually impaired. However, that made him appealing to us.

I would see Gary walking several times a day, mostly alone but occasionally with his wife. If they were together, he would have one hand on her shoulder and they would walk side-by-side. Gary was a tall, lanky fellow and his wife was much shorter than he was. I am sure she slowed his pace but they seemed to enjoy each other’s company. Other times he would be walking ahead of her by several yards.

In these fifteen years of seeing Gary on the road, we came-up with our own theories about him. We believed him to be Asian Indian; he was in his late 60’s-early 70’s; he was married; physically fit; and he enjoyed his walks. The news reports confirmed almost all of our beliefs. One other thing I learned about Gary was that he was of the Sikh faith.

When word of his death spread, the residents of the area was in shock and saddened. They, like my family, seemed to know him only as the man that walked every day. They could not believe that he died doing what he faithfully did on a daily basis. The neighbors immediately created a sign and memorial of flowers adjacent to where the accident occurred. Just the other evening, days after the accident, I saw a group of women standing near the memorial.

What struck me the most is that probably 99.9% of the residents here did not know Gary, but at the same time, we all “knew” him. Gary touched all of us just by his presence. There was a familiarity, a comfort, perhaps a joy in seeing him every day. I think that is why his death touched us all so deeply. Gary’s death brought a neighborhood together.

[Tweet "Everyone is important and is a gift, whether we know them by name or not."]

Instances such as this one are good times to teach our children, and remind ourselves, that every person is important and is a gift, whether we know them by name or not. People touch us whether we realize it or not. WE touch other people in the same way.

No one around here cares what race, ethnicity, or religion Gary was. We just know that we lost an icon, a familiar sight, our BROTHER!

Copyright 2016, Michael T Carrillo