Uncle Ken’s passing was documented below this post. It remains a point of grieving and mourning in our family that he’s gone.
My friend Jarvis, about whom I’ve written previously, is the man that married Sue and me. He was diagnosed a little over a year ago with pancreatic cancer. Last night, his wife, Susan held a surprise party for him, a kind of celebration that allowed more than a hundred of us who know and love him to come and be with him, spend an evening and enjoy each other’s company. So far, he’s holding his own-but the disease has spread to his lungs and while he has had a major surgical procedure as well as chemotherapy, there’s no telling what will happen–or when.
Luther Olmon was a member of our church and a man I’d known, at least on the periphery, for many years going all the way back to my college days. Luther was a Lutheran pastor and a senior mentor at California Lutheran University where I earned my Bachelor of Arts in English and my teaching credential. He lived the Gospel of Christ in his life–giving, gently prodding, moving in the direction of God’s love. His beautiful wife, Elaine, passed away a little more than a year ago from complications of food poisoning. She was older and simply couldn’t fight back against the illness. Luther passed away last Sunday, September 16. He didn’t survive his wife by very long. They were a team, Luther and Elaine. And they are still. Today, at the CLU Chapel, where Luther and Elaine spent so many of their days, we gathered to remember his life.
My friend Richard Winterstein, an actor–and my next door neighbor at the high school, where he teaches English and Drama, was off his game. At 65, Richard is a man full of life and passion and he shares that with his students. He wasn’t feeling well and he finally did something about it. He called his friend, a man he’s known for many years, and a cardiologist who put Rich on the treadmill for a stress test. He failed spectacularly. So, it was off to have a scan where it was revealed that 99.1 percent of his main artery was blocked. “You were a day or two away from a massive heart attack, my friend,” his doc said. Instead, Rich underwent angioplasty and is in good shape with stints in the artery and feeling good.
These men are all a big part of my life. Richard appears to have dodged a major bullet. But life is finite. My friends, my Uncle, are all men I admire and love and Luther’s death, while certainly at the end of a long life of 91 years and love and giving, is somehow tolerable. The others are reminders that we are finite creatures–and that if we don’t act now to love those with us, to share the love of God unconditionally, it may be too late.
Would that these will be the lessons I will learn.