Saturday, February 15, 2014

Goodbye, Old Friend.

He was just a grumpy old man.
To be fair, that was just my take on the old guy. He had never really acted grumpy. He had never said anything harsh or mean to anybody that I knew of. He just sat in his pew at church and had that look--kind of expressionless. You know, the kind of look that can make and old man look...well, grumpy.

After a while, he was given a job--a greeter at the door to the sanctuary!

It turned out that he was pretty good at it. He had a smile and greeted everybody that came through his door. It was as if having a job gave him some ownership of the church. He had a sense of pride in welcoming people to our church--his church.

One Sunday morning, as I was entering the sanctuary to greet our members and visitors, I shook his hand and then turned to go. He held on to my hand and said, "I want to talk to you!"

When he said it, it came out rough, like the grumpy old man that I once thought he was. There was no smile on his face and it looked like I'd done something to anger him. Then he said, "I used to think that you were the biggest fake in the place, but that's really you, isn't it?"

I wasn't sure what he was talking about and asked him about it. He said something about me being genuine as I smiled and greeted people each week. I remember telling him that I'm generally in a pretty good mood when I come to church and enjoy making people feel welcome.

That's when he smiled! It lit up his whole face and it seemed as if the crusty old man face fell away. Then he pulled me in by my still clasped hand and threw is other arm around my neck and hugged me. I've had a handshake and a hug from Ed every Sunday that he's been on duty since that morning.

Last week my old friend suffered a stroke. After clinging to life for a few days, yesterday he went to meet his Lord and Savior.

Tomorrow afternoon, our Hopedale family will gather to offer our condolences to the family and say our final farewells.

I'm going to miss my Sunday morning hugs.

John <><


Kevin Gilmore said...

I'm sorry for your and your congregation's loss, john.

Brenda Eldred said...

Beautiful story. So often we do judge a person by the way they look and don't bother to get to know them. Some times they just need a friend or to know that we are real. Thank you for sharing John.

Anemone said...

Such a fine tribute!

eViL pOp TaRt said...

I'm glad he found a spiritual home and a place to be. A nice man