In general there are excessive books in our house. This being the end of the school year, there are even more than usual lying around. This has resulted in more than the normal amount of clutter but, as usual, some moments of utter inspiration.
Yesterday I happened upon one of my little offspring engrossed in a book and I asked him what he was reading. Looking up he answered, “This is some story. It’s a story that almost made me cry!” (To be so caught up in a book that you feel tearful . . . this is right up there toward the top of my best wishes for anybody I love.) I asked him to tell me more and he said, “Here, let me read it to you; you’ll see.”
The book was Tomie dePaola’s book Now One Foot, Now The Other, the story of a young boy whose grandfather teaches him to walk and then a few years later he, in turn teaches his grandfather how to walk after his grandfather suffers a debilitating stroke.
My Sam explained, “The part that almost made me cry was the part when he had a stroke.”
My question, of course, was, “So why DIDN’T you cry??!”
“Listen to the story and you’ll see,” he said.
So I did. Listen, that is.
And at the end Sam said, “You see, even though it was sad that he had a stroke, the grandpa taught the little boy how to walk. For his whole life he would remember how to walk and remember his grandpa, because his grandpa taught him.”
We are saying goodbye to a member of our congregation who was fading fast when I came to Calvary three years ago. Though he had begun his decline by then, a visit with Bob is always something to look forward to. Even with the frustration of finding words and the elusive memories he can’t quite hang onto, Bob always has a twinkle in his eye and wants desperately to know what’s going on at Calvary.
Whenever I see him I always remind him that his church family loves him, and more often than not a tear runs down his cheek. To be part of this family of faith was so important to Bob and his wife, Nell.
Last week things started going downhill very quickly for Bob; we’re not sure how much longer he’ll be with us. One of our church members visited him a few days ago and wrote me the following email: “He was pretty alert and talkative to me today. But Bill and Larry said he is sleeping a lot. He is slipping away from us. On his wall was part of this poem from James Lowell. Amy — you would have loved knowing him better in his younger days. He loved language and poetry and writing — you would have had much to talk about —
I didn’t know Bob before he started “slipping away from us” as Carol so poignantly put it. But in a church family the legacy of one’s life lives on . . . we all know who leaves a legacy of dissention and pain and who lives a life marked by the love of God. From what I know of Bob now, but more importantly from what I know of those who were part of the church when Bob was still active, I know that Bob lived a life marked by the love of God.
Hearing from Carol about Bob slipping away from us is a story that almost makes you cry.
Until you remember, of course, that Bob taught a lot of the people in this congregation how to walk the walk of faith.
And, as Sam so succinctly pointed out, you never forget the person who taught you how to walk.