Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Remembering Rodney

Last week I told you all how saddened we all were learning that our colleague from the food pantry had died the previous weekend. Today I learned how and where he died.

It appears Rodney was walking down Michigan Street late Saturday night and he stopped by a closed convenience store, sat down and leaned against a dumpster. He was inebriated, he fell asleep and never woke up. He froze to death in his sleep. He was found Sunday afternoon.

If there is any light in this awful tragedy, it is that he probably felt no pain as he succumbed to the winter cold, but as I feared, he died alone. I am in tears as I remember, in spite of this personal failing, what a good man Rodney was. God rest his soul.

Since there were no services held for him, those of us who loved him intend to hold some sort of private memorial gathering at a date to later be determined. 

I don’t know if there is a heaven. If there is, Rodney, I know you are there. If there is not, at the very least, I can say you made a difference while you were here, you were loved and shall not be forgotten.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Happy New Year? Remembering a friend

I would have preferred to start off this year with something more fun. Instead...

I was deeply saddened to learn that someone "in our family" passed away Sunday. Rodney Hetzell was part of our church family at the First United Methodist Church Food Pantry. I have known Rodney for nearly as long as I have been a volunteer at our church (seven years in February).

Not only was he a faithful helper at the pantry, but he regularly attended church services, often talking about one of Pastor Mary Hubbard's homilies.

Rodney deeply cared for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised. I sincerely doubt he would have considered himself disadvantaged. Why else would a homeless person work so diligently for others?

Rodney was 51 years old--and homeless (but still found it in his heart to help the pantry). He was a bundle of energy. I don't know of what Rodney died but I am guessing his inner demons (alcohol) finally overtook him. He just could not escape the drink.

Rodney stopped by the church a few days before his death looking for a place to stay. In the end, he was able to secure a stay at a local shelter for one night only. He recently mentioned he had slept on the streets one night last week.

I will remember his sense of humor. One of his favorite things to do was when he, Maggie and I went to the Northern Indiana Food Bank for our weekly purchases was to find some extraordinarily odd item. One week it would seaweed pasta, the next pigs' feet, or some other odious food item, knowing full well the items might end up on our shelves for weeks before some brave soul would take them.

I kid you not that he found something odd every single week... and he would laugh his head off about it. He delighted in this and with it, we laughed too.

Rodney and I both worked for the county election boards. We had some interesting debates, with affectionate jabs at each other's political leanings.

Recently, Rodney broke his foot. He blamed it on his clumsiness but we all knew it was because he had drunk himself into a stupor. Many of us, Maggie, in particular, did everything we could to wean him off the drink, but as we all know, only the victim can do this--and they have to want it badly enough to do it.

He never got over the loss of his parents with whom he was close. Rodney had one estranged brother in Pittsburgh but they had not had anything to do with each other for years.

I weep knowing Rodney was all alone here (aside from his friends) and sadly, he was probably alone when he died.

Rodney may have been homeless, but his keen intellect and curiosity were boundless. Often I would find him looking at books or on a computer at the downtown library.

This morning at the pantry, we took a few moments to remember him. We all are saddened and mourn him most deeply.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Happy Armistice Day... aka Veteran's Day

Tonight my friends and I excercised what has become an annual tradition for us. For the past eight years we have dined out, usually with our friend Thomas (who is a USAF vet) for Veteran's Day. In my circle, two of us are vets, five are not.

It has been, for us, a way to celebrate AND to honor, not only Tom's and my service, but also to see the countless other veterans who have served for whatever reasons they hold dear... young, old (especially the old), we all gather in fellowship.

It is not for a free meal, but for us a way of reliving the cammaraderie we felt while serving.

This Veteran's Day is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, marking the end of the war to end all wars, World War I. None of our veterans of that great war survive today. The numbers of our World War II vets dwindle with each passing day as do our Korean War vets. I honor them each and all.

Today, I am heartened to see the many companies who go out of their way to honor us vets. It was not so long ago that many of our Vietnam War vets, who answered the call, came home to find a nation that dishonored (some of) them with utter hate, disrespect and even violence.

This is the month where many of us express for what we are most thankful. While many offer their thanks for our service to country, I want to counter that with my thanks for friends, family and for the opportunity millions of us have enjoyed: the honor was ours to have served a nation and a people we love.

Happy Veteran's Day!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Monday, September 24, 2018

Sauce for the goose?

A Navy acquaintance wrote me this morning bitterly complaining about how unchristian the liberal left are treating the Brett Kavanaugh nomination and how he hopes God punishes them all.

Now mind you, my friend knows I am a card carrying bleeding heart liberal so I am not sure where he thought his diatribe would get him.

He feels they are embarrassing (the Democrats) themselves. I do not agree on his assertion, and I then pointed out to him the Republicans treated Merrick Garland no better, worse even. At least Kavanaugh was afforded the opportunity to be interviewed for consideration.

"Why are liberal/leftists/progressives afraid of a conservative jurist?" he asked. I threw the question back at him asking what are conservatives afraid of when it comes to a moderate or liberal jurist?


Changing the subject, he then mentioned that the courts have no right to override Mr. Trump's decisions. Sorry, but yes they do, and I am sure he applauded the courts when they overruled some of President Obama's decisions. 

He singled out the 9th Circuit Court overruling Mr. Trump's travel and immigration restrictions. Sorry, bud. I do not agree with Trump's xenophobic policies!

I told him I have disagreed with absolutely everything Mr. Trump has done... and that, it seems, was that. His went silent on me.

Like I said, I am not sure what my friend hoped to gain. He, for a long time, has sent me post after post with, I suppose, the intent and hope that I would repent and see the errors of my "ill-informed" and mistaken ways and embrace conservatism.

Sorry, but that is not going to happen. Not ever.