MEMORIES OF MY BELOVED FRIEND, DAVIDA Story by Ellen Hammond
Momma used to say that you can count all your real, true, and special friends, throughout an entire lifetime, on one hand and still have fingers left over. David was one of those rare few friends, in my life. We first met 35 years ago at a prayer meeting. It was the same time I met Fr. Fredricks whom I wrote about in my story, "He Touched My Soul." The prayer meeting was held in the home of a member of David's church and he went to it because the charismatic movement was new in this area and he wanted to make sure it was not some sort of strange cult leading us astray.
Since I moved in with my daughter in mid May, I had been asking her to take me to visit him but she had not found the time yet to do so. I just found out Sunday evening that he died and his funeral was Sunday afternoon. He was 81 and had been fighting cancer for the last few years. Early in the week, my spirit must have realized that he was not as well as he tried to pretend, because my prayers for him changed as I found myself asking God to spare him from suffering any more pain than was absolutely necessary.
In my entire life, David was the only man who saw me at my very worst, my best, and everywhere in between. Yet he truly loved me unconditionally, like a father should. He was a wonderful trustworthy friend who would always listen and never judge no matter what I said or did. I could and did confide so much to him, even things I kept secret from others. There have been many times in my life that he has helped me to hold onto my faith in God and in humanity. He has seen me through so many trials and storms; and never preached at me, even though he was in fact, a preacher. He was a priest and Canon in the Anglican church.
David often came to visit when I was in the middle of a dirty job, like painting walls. Once, he dropped in on his way from a funeral, still in his long black robe. He wanted to say hi to my husband, Tom. But I told him we were tearing down a lath and plaster wall and the house was a mess from the plaster flying everywhere. He said, "Don't you worry about that, Mutt! I came to see you not your house." And he walked into the messiest room to say hi to Tom, even helped him finish tearing down the wall. By the time he left, his robe was totally covered with plaster dust.
Tom avoided all churches since he was in his early teens and had never liked ministers of any kind, coming to our home. But that day, through his helpfulness and down to earth attitude, David left a lasting impression on him. Tom not only liked him, but admired and respected him too. That was amazing, since Tom always said he had no use for any ministers because he considered them to be hypocrites, never practicing what they preached, yet they expected everyone else to look up to them. That one visit, changed his view of the clergy, well of one clergyman anyway.
David never considered himself to be above anyone, or anything. He respected our friendship, and me, enough to have deep and meaningful conversations about a lot of different subjects. At times, he confided in me when he was concerned about something. And, he even sought my advice, when he was not sure how to handle a certain situation which he knew I had experienced in the past, and could thus understand and offer him a different perspective.
Through him, the Lord taught me so much about unconditional love. He looked for the silver linings in every cloud, and taught me to do the same. After reading a poem I was writing when he dropped in one day, he encouraged me to keep writing from my heart and to share my poetry. In fact, he kept a copy of most of them and read, or had me read, some of them to the church congregation.
After he officially retired years ago, he seemed to work even more, as he was always filling in as interim pastor when any church in this province was without a minister. He even stayed at one remote church for over 3 years until the bishop found a priest who would be willing to go to that island, and one the congregation would accept as well. Even in his 80th year, he pastored a church for a little over a year; holding services, visiting the elderly and shut-ins in that parish too. But, no matter where he was, we stayed in touch.
David had a great sense of humor too. We were discussing ancestory one day and I said, "I am sort of a 'Heinz 57' definitely not a purebred, anything."
His eyes twinkled as he responded, "Oh not a purebred, you say! Well that must mean you're a bit of a mutt then." Thus Mutt became his pet name for me.
For the next 10 years that he was the pastor of our church, he would walk down the aisle and greet people by name before the service. Every time he saw me walk in, he would come over, grin, pat me on the head and/or ruffle my hair and say something like, "How are you today. Mutt?" Or his grin would get even bigger with, "Good thing you showed today, Mutt! Wouldn't want you to miss the sermon I wrote with your name on it!" Ultimately, those sermons would remind me of a discussion we had sometime earlier, as he expounded upon the new insight he gleaned from a friend.
One day, he didn't ruffle my hair and I sat through the service, wondering if he was upset with me for something. So, I mentioned it to him right after the service. Apparently, one of the older ladies told him that it was rude to ruffle my hair because she wouldn't like it if he ruffled hers after she spent so much time curling and combing it. We shared a good laugh when I told me it bothered me more because he hadn't. After that day, he made a point to ruffle my hair everytime and everywhere he saw me. Even when I was in a coma 2 years ago, he ruffled my hair, just so I would know he was there, after he had driven to the hospital to see me and to comfort my grown children. He visited me after I came out of the coma too, even though I was in isolation for MRSA. He was 79 years old, and battling cancer, yet he would drive the 90 mile round trip, so he could see for himself that I was okay. He told me on one visit that he came to see me hoping to lift my spirits, but I had lifted his instead.
I have no doubt he is with our Lord, because he lived a life of love. He always looked for and found the good in others, and never judged them no matter what they may or may not have done or believed. Love flowed through him to all he met, young and old, no matter what faith they practiced and even to those who claimed there was no God. David believed God is big enough to work through all faiths, even non-Christian ones. Perhaps that seemed a bit unconventional for a Anglican minister to say, but he had respect for all faiths and would say,
"You know, Mutt, Jesus hung on the cross to take away the sin of the world, and even though many have not come to know Jesus as we have, it doesn't mean that His blood didn't atone for their sin too. Look at Ghandi, Buddist monks, devout Jews, and others, who love God as they know him, and truly try to live by the golden rule, even if they don't call it that. Do you really think a loving Father would punish them just because they didn't attend a Christian church? We can all learn a lot from each other if we open our hearts and minds."
The Lord shone through David so brightly. He was a guiding light for many, and a wonderful, loving, mentor and friend to me. He even taught me by example, how to be a true foul-weather friend, meaning that when a friend was really needed, he tried his best to always be there with a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, or whatever capacity he could serve in.
I never had the chance to say goodbye, and didn't even get to pay my last respects. After two years of being stuck in a wheelchair, this is the first time I have gotten totally frustrated and angry over not being able to walk or jump into a car and go where I wanted to go. He would have been the first to tell me I needed to vent that anger instead of burying it, and to learn from it too.
I would have loved to have been able to visit more with David and his wife Joan. Sometimes we would get into deep conversations, and other times we'd go for walks, or sit in their beautiful backyard, simply enjoying nature and our times together. It really hurts to think that I could not be there for David or Joan, the last few months, especially since he was the one person who has consistently been there for me, with his open heart, open arms, and open mind.
Writing about David has eased my heartache a bit, as I think it may help others to prevent having similar regrets. I take solace in the fact that I have often let David know how much I loved and appreciated him. So, if you find yourself not telling someone how much you care, or saying, "I would like to go visit... a dear friend or relative, when I can get time....," STOP! Instead of waiting for a good time, make the time.... take the time.... to see those you love. None of us are guaranteed another day, or even another minute on this earth so use your time wisely. Your worth is not measured by what position you hold, how hard you work or play, nor by the wealth or even the number of friends you accumulate. What really matters is how you touch another's heart and soul.
© 2009 Ellen Hammond
Added on August 18, 2009
Last Updated on August 21, 2009
Pennfield, N.B., Bay of Fundy , Canada
AboutI am a Christian with a deep faith.....but not overly religious. I believe that faith is something we share by the way we live and reach out in love to all others....NOT something for me to pre.. more..
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