The Deacon Blues

So I lost a good friend yesterday.

You see, I was elected as a Deacon in the First Presbyterian Church of Troy a few years ago, so I’ve been serving in that capacity for a while now. (And no my membership in the Presbyterian Church has nothing to with Norman McClean or the Book or the movie if thats what you’re thinking) I wasn’t sure what it would mean at first. I wasn’t sure if I should accept. But generally if people have faith in you enough to ask, you should probably oblige, so I did.

As part of our duties we check in on some folks who can’t necessarily get out like they used to. These are folks who used to attend church with some regularity or have a spouse who did, members for the most part, who now are house bound and elderly.  Some don’t have family in the area. Some have some chronic illness. Some are in a nursing home. Generally the Deacons just check in to make sure everything is ok. We just act like another pair of eyes. and makre sure that they aren’t a danger to themselves or need any additional help beyond what is available to them at home. If we notice somehting out of the ordinary we make sure they are getting the care that they need.

I was assigned a particularly difficult case of a gentleman who knew the deal. He knew that Deacons were only assigned to people who were struggling for some reason. He didn’t want a Deacon checking in on him, really. So I snuck in under the guise of Graphic design. He enjoyed computers and design stuff, flyers and what not. When his wife was a Deacon, he helped her put together the flyers that they passed out. So I went over the first few times just to talk about bringing those back, so as not to alarm him.

After a while he figured it out. He had COPD from smoking his entire life, even after the doctor and his wife begged him to stop. Can’t say as I blame him really. If someone tolkd me I had to stop drinking coffee right now, or die, I’m afraid of what I might say. So I think I get it, maybe, probably not, but I can imagine. Over the last few years I visited with him and his wife about once a month. Its actually a lot more time than I’ve actually spent with my own grandfather (who’s still kickin’ at a precocious 95) in the last few years.

I’ve known this gentleman my entire life, but only in the polite churchly kind of way. We got to know each other a lot better over the last few years as I stopped by and His COPD got progressively worse. He talked less and less and his breathing became more labored. Generally he was in a good mood when I went over there though. We built him a ramp this year, when his ability to walk failed during the winter. His wife couldn’t get his wheel chair up or down the stairs. So whenever he had a doctors appointment his grandson, who’s about my age, had to ome over and help get him out of the house. We didn’t have all that much in common. When I asked if he liked Bluegras, he said NO.

But we did talk a lot about hunting. He grew up in eastern Ohio shooting squirrels and pheasants with a 22. He said his Dad was the best shot that ever lived, and I believe that. We oogled the picture of my bird dog, and talked about the girls on Dancing with the Stars. We talked about dentists and doctors gradually his wife starting talking more and more and he less and less. I went to visit him in the hospital the other day, and he used the phrase, “at this stage of the game.” So I kind of figured he knew the deal, and of course he did. They called in Hospice on Wednesday and Thursday morning, he checked out at home.

It went by so fast. I wish I would have gone to see him more often. The service is Sunday, and I’m sure it will be well attended. There’s a lunch afterwards so I’ll get to see Kevin his son, which will be nice. That’s the second person I’ve lost as a Deacon, and this isn’t any easier than the first, my buddies grandma, Betty.

But I guess thats the way things go.

This is the kind of thing that puts some thoughts into your mind on the river, and then it takes them away, on around the bend.

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