Monday, April 04, 2011
Goodbye, Old Friend
I'm back in Utah again after a lovely two months with Jonah. Sadly, I will be away from him for five months (give or take a few days of visits) for work.
Just before I came back to Utah, my neighbor across the street posted on her Facebook page that a man I have known all my life, who lived in the ward where I grew up even before my parents moved in, had passed away. This news was not exactly shocking. Just before I left two months ago, I distinctly remember looking at him as he was walking down the aisle to his seat and thinking, "Brother Walgreen is looking really frail these days." I remember feeling a sense of sadness because Brother Walgreen had never been a frail individual as long as I knew him, and it made me kind of sad that old age was finally having an adverse effect on him.
I guess his last few months had involved quite a bit of pain and suffering, but true to his nature, he always tried to have a smile on his face.
While not shocked by his death, I am saddened. Don't get me wrong; he lived a long and worthwhile life, and after so much pain in his last months, it was good that he and his family could be released from his suffering. It was his time to go.
No, what makes me sad is that there is one less beautiful spirit in the world, and a vital piece of the ward I grew up in is no longer there. Brother Walgreen was truly one of the best human beings I have ever known. He was a giant (figuratively and literally) among men, and this world really is the poorer with him not in it.
He had the greatest heart and was so interested in the lives of those around him. He was always asking me what I was up to (and not in the superficial way that most people are, including myself; he genuinely wanted to know about me and my life, and that was true of his relationships with just about everyone he knew). He was always quick to write you a personal note and mail it to you or give you a phone call if you had done something that particularly touched him. I remember receiving such calls and notes after giving a talk in church or singing or if an article ran in the paper about some show I was in. And again, when he gave you these compliments, it always felt so genuine; he wasn't just being nice - he was genuinely touched or interested.
He served as a bishop when I was growing up, and my bishop when my older brother and sister both went on missions. At his viewing there was a book of remembrance he had made that included pictures and personal notes from all the missionaries that had served during his tenure as bishop. My brother and sister were in there, of course. When I saw that book, so lovingly assembled, I thought that this was exactly the kind of thing he would do.
He served faithfully in his church callings and cared deeply about people. He served his country in World War II. He was such a good, good man. That whole moniker of "The Greatest Generation" describes his wife and him to a tee.
I loved him dearly, and my mom's ward (which I still consider my home ward) will never be the same without him. The world has lost a great, great man, and I cannot stress that enough. Brother Walgreen is celestial material by far. If someone like him can't make it to the Celestial Kingdom, there is no hope for the rest of us.
I will miss him very much and look forward to the day when I will see him again in the afterlife. He has left such an indelible print on my life.
Thanks, old friend!