There is such a sadness floating around me swirling like water ’round a rock.
I fell asleep on Wednesday to the news of the horrid killings in Charleston and awoke on Thursday to the lingering sadness that prevails. Though my day was filled with work and purpose, I felt that proverbial weight of the world on my shoulders.
I sifted though a pile of envelopes; fliers, bills and such. Sitting in abeyance was a “note to self” to call a member of a board I sit on. I had not heard from Barb in some time, knew she was ailing. I had been experiencing a difficult time getting in touch with her. I put my note in a spot where I would see it, planning to call her when I returned home.
The best made plans do often go astray, for I returned home to a message that Barb had passed away. She will be missed.
The the sadness swirled some more as the news came to me in a phone call about one thing that led to an aside about something else; a long-time friend had passed away a week or so ago.
Milt was a unique person; a man who walked the walk he talked. He was an educator and a man with a servant’s heart; someone who truly practiced what he preached.
I first met Milt when he became the principal at the elementary school our daughters attended. When I met him, our Jennifer was in second grade. Katy was a toddler tagging along with Mom on a school related task. Milt, then the in-coming principal at Field School, introduced himself, shook my hand, and then got down on his knees to say hello to Katy. That was Milt; meeting everyone at their own level.
As time went on, we became friends and we started a book discussion group; the very same book group I am still in and sometimes mention here on the Cutoff. Milt and his wife, Rosalie, stopped participating a few years ago. Age related issues and life changes had deemed it time for them to move on. They were the most devoted of couples I have ever known. Most of the members of our book group are either retired teachers who taught with Milt or friends who are parents of children who were under his principalship. More than that, everyone in town seemed to know Milt, who winter-camped, had a prison ministry, was a staunch advocate of the rights of all and a good steward of the environment.
We’ve missed Milt – and Rosalie, who had successes in her own right. Rosalie was a writer and one of the first to publish a book about Alzheimer’s. “Journey with Grandpa” is a memoir of her father-in-law and of living and caring for someone with the disease. It became a loving “how to” manual for many in a time when Alzheimer’s was just beginning to be recognized and talked about.
Milt’s story wraps around another part of my life which is part of my sorrowful mood right now. In a discussion some years ago, he mentioned the first school he was principal at and of the young Greek Orthodox priest who tended his fledging flock with services in the school’s gym, with Sunday school in the classrooms. We had a good chat as I said that I was actually one of the children attending Sunday School and Greek language school there.
Not long after that, I attended a anniversary liturgy at the Greek Orthodox church, Holy Apostles, which had eventually moved to its permanent location, building a permanent church, where the very same priest Milt remembered, Father Bill, still tended his flock. I had a few moments to talk to him and mentioned my friend, Milt, the principal of Nixon school, which he seemed to delighted to hear about. Father Bill passed away a little more than a month ago.
So it goes, this passage of time, senseless acts that have no rhyme or reason and a floating sadness like water ’round a rock.