This post is brought to you by Memory Mondays.
You know those adults who make up your life’s scenery when you’re a kid? Most kids have some sort of parental figures (good or bad, they directly affect our lives by their presence or absence), and if we’re lucky we have a few other adults who take a positive interest in our lives and sort of help bring us up, and then there are other adults that are just sort of around, but you get used to having them there?
When I was eight, my family moved from Honduras to New England so my dad could plant a church. Everybody we knew when we first got here seemed to have something to do with churches, and I kind of lost track of where we knew everybody from, but one couple around my parents’ ages that were “around” from the very beginning of that time were Wally and Linda. Wally and Linda had, ultimately, eight kids, though I don’t think they had that many yet when we met them. Some of their girls were around my age. Sometimes we would play together. I didn’t really know Wally and Linda, but they were always really nice, they always talked to me, and they were kind of comforting people to have in the background. You know. You’re a kid. You kind of take adults for granted, but sometimes it’s nice to know they’re there. I wish, though, that I when I moved back to Massachusetts in my 30’s, I would have grown up enough to take them out of that category. They reached out to me a few times, but they were always my parents’ friends, and for some reason it never occurred to me they could be my friends, or mentors, or something, too.
Wally has cancer.
It’s not like my cancer was. Apart from a legit miracle, this cancer isn’t going anywhere, and he isn’t going to survive it. He just found out his chemo isn’t improving anything, so he opted to quit. Today, the church he is currently serving had a tribute service. They must have invited all of New England. The place was packed, and for over an hour, people shared their memories of this remarkable man. I thought, I could have learned so much from this couple. I also thought, People should do this for every good minister. I know, clergy don’t have a very good reputation anymore, but I come from a family of good ones, and grown up in circles of other good ones. And let me just say that church work? Can be a pretty thankless job.
Wally and Linda had some tough times, even before the cancer. I never knew specifics, but these “tough times” lasted for ages or kept coming back or something. Maybe both. They hung in there, though, and hung in there, and hung in there some more. I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of them not smiling. Still, as someone who has worked for churches on a lesser scale, I can’t imagine they didn’t have times where they wondered why on earth they were in this profession, and if it was doing any good and if anyone cared. I don’t really know how Wally felt, but as I walked into the church, from a parking lot away because the church parking lot was full, I myself got teary and wondered if he ever had any idea that he was important to this many people. And I thought how lovely it was that, this side of Heaven, he could find out.