Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Few Good Men

There are couple less "good men" around this week. Two weeks ago our dear 95 year old neighbor died. This Monday Jon's favorite uncle Jack was buried. Both of these men will be missed by those who knew and loved them. They lived quiet lives. Good lives.
Our neighbor Harry, the 95 year old, volunteered at a local nursing home until his health failed in May. He is greatly missed by the daughter who moved him into her home eight years ago and cared for him. He is greatly missed by all his friends and family and even the family dog, Lucy, who still goes into his bedroom looking for him.
Uncle Jack was Jon's favorite uncle. He had polio as a young child and had some encumbrance with mobility all his life. In the last decade or so of life, that polio caused increased weakness of muscles and he used braces, crutches, then a wheelchair.
That disability didn't stop him from having a wonderful life. You might have noticed his deformed feet and spindly legs but quickly forgot those physical attributes when you spent time with Jack. He was one of the warmest, most engaging people I have met. Jack had many interests and spent a lifetime learning. He loved to read and had more books than some small town libraries. He loved doing research. He was interested in new ideas. His major interest was in history and he wrote several books about subjects in Stearns County, MN. Although he loved history, he kept his focus forward and marveled at new things that interested him and almost everything interested him. He was a lot like my father in-law Roman and they were close friends. Both were great storytellers.
Uncle Jack was a bachelor until he was forty. He drove a cool T-bird--a two-seater that impressed the nieces and nephews. He loved photography and had his own dark room to process his photos. He wrote. Most of his life he worked at St. John's University, first teaching English and then working at the liturgical press.
He married later in life but still managed to have five children.
My husband Jon stayed close to his favorite uncle. He always made copies of his vacation videos for him and Jack enjoyed this vicarious travel. At his funeral Jon met many of Jack's friends who told him how his uncle would brag about his nephew Jonny. They would also get to see the videos. I think this was a symbiotic relationship. Both men were creative and interested in life. Both men appreciated each other.
I know Jon will miss visiting with Jack. No more email. No phone calls. No more visits. Not until later. Jack is no longer living in St. Cloud. He is now walking the Streets of Gold, as Jon said at his funeral. Much has been made of the demise of the King of Pop as he made the rounds in his golden casket. He had fame, talent, and money but lived tragically. I don't think the King of Pop enjoyed his life as much as the humble man from St. Cloud. The celebrity certainly had the bigger send off but we are certain Uncle Jack had a very warm, big reception by the real King. Streets of Gold and no disabilities anymore. A whole new world has opened up for Jack in heaven. Surely Jack has a lot more to experience there and I know he is enjoying himself more than we can imagine. He loved the Lord and the Lord was waiting to welcome him home.

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