I’m having to deviate from the premise of my blog because “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” While I was getting a few of my chores done in preparation for going to my granddaughter’s 5th grade graduation, I happened to go on Facebook and see a friend’s posting that her husband had died that morning at 9:30. He had been sick for about 9 months and it was a daily occurance for those of us who knew him to ask each other, “Any news on Chuck?” Or, “How is Chuck doing today?” He was the most loved and respected man I know.
I live in a small, over 55 age group community. My friend Jim refers to it as God’s waiting room. While we don’t have a death every week or even every month, we do have people who need back surgery, or who become unable to care for themselves, or who have to begin chemotherapy, etc. We’ve become very aware of our own mortality. Or at any rate, our physical decline.
Late last summer or early fall, Chuck and his wife Barb were in Florida on one of their vacations. They came back early because Chuck wasn’t feeling well. Some of us were planning a cruise and we were hoping they’d be able to come. But Chuck was afraid to make any definite plans until he got a diagnosis and would be feeling better. He ended up in the hospital while we were gone. We were concerned, but felt he’d be treated and be back to his normal self.
His son got married in November, but Chuck and Barb weren’t able to make it back to New York. They attended the wedding via Skype from Chuck’s hospital room. We knew what that meant to Chuck. He loved that boy! He was always posting on FB about Scott’s race car, etc. We all put ourselves in Chuck’s place and knew how we would have felt under the same circumstances.
He’d get released from the hospital, only to end up back there within a week or two. We kept up a good front, Barb kept up a good front and Chuck kept up a good front. You see, Chuck wasn’t just a friend and a resident of our community. Chuck was a pillar. But, not one who liked the accolades or credit for anything he did. No, no. He didn’t want any kind of praise. He was so humble. And so ready to help anyone. Or to do anything.
I took on the chore of doing our newsletter. He was right there with some software he had that I could use. If I needed to know who was in a picture I was using, I’d send it to him and he’d tell me who it was. He was the first one to send me an email after my first edition telling me I did a great job.
He was part of our Wii bowling group. He’d so often be there with a crockpot of soup he made. He would be manning the grill flipping those burgers at our cookouts at the pool. He was our tech guru … our DJ at our parties. He’d be there helping with our community yard sales. Any kind of work project that would be getting done, he’d be there. One of the stories being told was the time he was on a ladder and Joe, who has Parkinson’s and shakes, was holding the ladder. Chuck told him, “Joe, stop holding my ladder.” Or the time when I had my first strike in Wii bowling and then announced, “Every so often I have a perfect one in me.” Chuck was the first to respond, but I’ll leave it to you to decide what he said. And you’d probably be accurate.
He’d post the specials of the day on Facebook for various mom and pop restaurants around town. I asked him why and he responded, “I try to help out any way I can.” He was just that kind of man. He was always thoughtful and willing to do whatever he could to help anyone in need. For his really close friends, there was nothing he wouldn’t do. Just ask a few of them.
To say he was loved is putting it mildly. In the age of being a success as defined as, He who dies with the most toys wins, Chuck could give them lessons on what being a success really is. He was a success with a capital S. And he wasn’t old .. just into his early 60’s. He didn’t live nearly long enough. Only the good die young … very true in his case.
We’ll have people step up and fill the void he left. But, it will take people. Not one man. It will take a village. Rest in peace, Chuck.