My Relentless Friend

Sam Cardillo

I met Sam him in 1973. He pursued a friendship with me for reasons that I could not understand. It didn’t matter to him that I wasn’t a musician. He saw something in me that he deemed worthy of friendship. From the day we met in the lobby of 1800 Arch Street to our last meeting at a café (we loved going out for coffee), Sam was faithful as my advisor, teacher, counselor, best friend.

As I have reflected on my relationship with Sam, one thing that stands out is that he was a relentless pursuer of my friendship; in fact, our relationship flourished for 38 years largely because Sam never gave up on me. He initiated, I responded. In every area, Sam was a student of my life, challenging me always to step out of my comfort zone and do what I would not have done on my own. He recognized my gifts, explained them to me, guided me on the course to pursue them, encouraged me when I doubted, patiently nurtured me back when I gave up. I always wondered—how could he be so confident about my gifts when I was so doubtful? Sam was truly the guiding force in shaping the course of my life.

Sam lived, better than anyone, the words of John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” His relationship with God and his love for God permeated every area of his life. He inspired me to strive for that kind of relationship with God. I never walked away from a conversation with Sam without having encountered his profound, yet very simple faith in, and love for God. And it was simple. As profound and wise and knowledgeable as Sam was, his faith was simpler than that of anyone I have known. What a beautiful mystery!

One of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis expresses better than anything I can say, what I loved about Sam: “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible god’s and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you may talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.”

Sam’s life was about helping me, guiding me and everyone he knew, constantly, relentlessly, along a path to become a creature with a glorious and heavenly destination.

The loss I have experienced continues to be so profound, and yet what a precious gift Sam’s life will be to me until the day I die.

     Sam and Deb's inscription, thanking Samuel Hsu for teaching them how to love.
Sam's Chinese name means
story menu button

Sam and Deb Cardillo in their wedding day

Notes and photos from friends were everywhere in Sam's apartment and piano studio. Clearly, his love for them ran deep and it remains eternally so.