A few years back I met a lady who wanted to confess her sins. She’d been trying to catch up with me for a while so I called around to see her. As it turned out (and I think I’m being safe here) she didn’t have anything major to confess. I’ve had a murderer and a bank robber do the same thing, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
We became close friends.
Over the years I visited her and her husband regularly. Judy (names changed) couldn’t come to church even though she wanted to. She was tied to an oxygen tank and even walking a few paces was too much. Don would sit in the background and listen.
Eventually Judy ended up in hospital. Don couldn’t look after her at home anymore. Boy, he was a faithful husband. He was there everyday and even took up a bottle of wine once a week for their Friday lunch.
He and I became close friends too.
Judy died. I got to take her funeral. Don was lost without her.
The weekend after the funeral, guess who came to church? Don. We’d talked a lot and when they were younger he had always dropped his wife off at church, bought a paper and sat in the car reading it while Judy was in church. This day he came to church because “Judy would have wanted me to”.
Don and I still met regularly. He was still lost. He had some great stories and great sayings. I wish I’d written them down.
Don started reading his bible and so we started a bible study. One day he was telling me how much the church had meant to him since Judy died. It had become his family (and he had become our grandfather). We called him the ‘chairman of the church’ because he turned up early every week and put out the chairs for morning tea in his late 80’s mind you.
Don took a real interest in many of the young families. He was attentive and occasionally brought gifts. Like the time one teenager was talking about her broken watch. He bought her one. Or my son, who played the trumpet (so did Don). He brought a CD with trumpet jazz.
He loved music did I tell you that? He even brought along a CD player to church. So we could have music in the background while we had morning tea. The others of his generation loved it. We all did actually, even if we’d never heard of the artists. Any of the kids who were musical, he delighted in hearing of their successes and made sure we showed photos or video clips when they achieved something.
After our conversation about how much the church meant, I asked Don if he would like to tell his story to the church. He was a little reluctant but only a little. He did. When he did, there wasn’t a dry eye in the building.
Don had come to mean as much to us as we to him.
Both Don and Judy got to tell me they’d once known God but had forgotten. They also got to tell me God found them again.
This year Don died. I got to take his funeral. Today, nearly eight months later, I miss Don.