Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone is connected to each other by way of at the most six levels of introduction. If I met someone in Europe somehow we could trace back our acquaintances to find where we shared a link. Living in a small village those six steps collapse down to none. And this week, in Parham, we are all surviving with bruised hearts as we’ve said goodbye to three amazing people in this one week.
We’re missing Alvin who spent many years looking after our village school. He was a supreme jokester. Many school days would be punctuated by someone hollering from the staff room ‘ALVIN!!’ One time he hid all the teacher’s dresses that had been hanging in the women’s washroom in preparation for graduation that night. There was a chorus of ‘ALVIN’s that afternoon after school! Cars would get moved in the parking lot (which was split on either side of the long school building …) – staff would come out of one side of the school and walk with their head down and shoulders laden with marking bags to get to their car – and they would stop – confused – then squint their eyes and slowly turn back to see Alvin chuckling in one of the large classroom windows. There was never any hint as to how he’d managed to hoist car keys and return them without being noticed. He brought a lot of laughter to those days.
We’re missing ‘Joey’. In a small village you can be the father of three and still be ‘Joey’ or ‘Joe Jr.’. Joey grew up helping his parents run ‘Joe and Marg’s’ convenience store. I can relate to a childhood rooted in a ‘store community’. Eventually Joe(y) took over the store and continued his parent’s tradition of being a strong village supporter. He was a talented and popular ball player – often snagging games as the pitcher or first baseman. He too was a master of practical jokes which kept his friends and family in stitches. He grew up in the village, formed strong friendships here and had only just begun to raise his children here. He was part of an extended family of young couples who became the movers and the shakers here – building the local ball diamond – spearheading recreation programs for kids – spending summers on the lakes and winters on the ski do trails. His store was where we walked with our granddaughters to pick up a cold freezie on hot summer days or to get the scoop on local news. He left this life so very young …
We’re thinking of the Goodwin family. Their mom, Joan, bravely battled cancer for a long time. I first met Joan when I was a young rookie teacher. Her three girls were spunky, sparkly kids who always walked each other home at the end of the school day. She was one of those parents that turned parent-teacher interviews into a fun visit. She was game to go on any school trip and was a favourite when kids had to sign up to be in parent supervised groups. We spent numerous Saturday mornings as the ‘Moms of the Dancers’ watching our daughter and her eldest learn ballet and jazz routines. Joan was the type of person that always had a twinkle in her eye and had good things to say about everyone she knew. Her eldest daughter was married a few years ago and Joan was so incredibly happy to be there with her. She sported smart looking scarves and classy hats and kicked up her heels in celebration. My heart aches that she has missed the birth of her first grandchild by just a few months… But then, perhaps, she has in fact met this special little one three months earlier than the rest of us.
At a service we attended this morning one eulogy included a listing of all of the village ball players now taking positions on the heavenly roster. Each person gone ahead was given a position and the congregation was able to chuckle at the antics that they surely would be up to given the chance to play together again. Comforting to think that just like those of us living in this small corner of the world there might be another small corner in heaven where people continue to look out for each other like village people do.
Travel well my friends.