Friday, January 16, 2009

Ed, Harvey and the Storeroom Clubhouse

I've spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about Ed. His story is a life lesson to us all.
Ed was my Dad's best friend. They were an odd duo. Ed owned the local liquor store and Dad, a teetotaler, the local funeral home. They would visit in the back storage room of the liquor store over a couple of Dr. Peppers and solve the world's problems. It had to be a great escape for Dad, like a clubhouse he could slip away to and be relieved from the stressors of the day. These are the days of no cell phones; not even a pager; and who's going to think of tracking down Harvey in a liquor store? For Ed, it had to be a welcome break from the quick "How ya doin'?" exchanges of customer traffic.
On Wednesdays, they had lunch together at the Rotary Club meetings and they crossed paths regularly as they worked on advertising campaigns for their businesses and local elections. Dad was a town coucilman and Ed was a great resource for what the town was thinking.
It was at a Rotary dinner-dance that Ed approached Dad at tableside, with a bellyful of joy as he exclaimed, "What a great party!" With that, he fell to the floor and died of a heart attack.
Dad took care of Ed. No doubt it was an emotional time for him; he loved the man. Having anyone else care for him though, would have been out of the question. It was an honor; a sacred duty. To have a stranger care for him, would have been more painful to Dad's broken heart.
The day of his wake the whole town showed up. The funeral home was flooded with a who's who of businessmen, townsfolk and winos. Everyone wandered around in shock, as they expressed what a wonderful guy Ed was.
The irony came as I manned the front sidewalk with Dad. The number of people, though not surprising, actually caused Dad to well-up with emotion as he explained, "Ed was one of the loneliest people in town. He was often sad and told me he didn't think he had any friends. Would you look at this crowd! He never knew."
Take a moment and look around you. Take time to offer a kind word; an encouragement. It may be a starving person who needs their heart fed. Don't wait until the eulogy to express your admiration, commitment or gratitude. Celebrate someone today.