I'm sad this evening. Earlier today, I learned that the father of one of my childhood friends passed away a few weeks ago. His obituary didn't land in the local Exeter paper until today, and his funeral is set for next week. It seems Jerry died in his sleep. A good way to go, but it now leaves my friend Leonita fatherless and motherless. Her mom, Ellen, of whom I wrote about on this blog, died last September. Perhaps Jerry's heart was too broken from the loss of his soulmate that he decided to follow after her. It's hard to say, but that certainly would not be far-fetched.
While going to the funeral home site to put up a note to the family, I learned of the death of another person from my childhood. Rosemary Coffin, who I remembered as the lady with the British accent at our church, died last week. Her memorial service is set for this coming Saturday. I shared that news with the Anonymous Peggins who will be home in time for it. Rosemary, besides having a British accent, stands out in my memory because she started Seacoast Hospice in 1978. I remembered hearing about that, and as a ten year-old, being very impressed with the concept. It would be almost three decades later, dealing with my dad's death and the decline of other people, that I experienced first-hand the compassion and wisdom of Hospice care. It gave me a whole new sense of how special Rosemary was for seeing the need, and working to start such a helpful program in my hometown.
And then there was the news that Reverend Peter J. Gomes, a rarity of black, gay, Republican and Harvard Professor who was dubbed "the Bishop of Harvard" by Massachusetts Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, had died of complications from a stroke suffered last December. He was 68. I never knew him, but I have seen him interviewed and he had a commanding presence, and a matter-of-fact way of basically saying, "God made me and I'm gay. Next question?" He came out as a gay man in the 1990s when a conservative publication at Harvard put out a gay-bashing issue that caused an uproar on campus.
"I do not know when the quality of life has been more violated," he told a crowd of about 100 as he stood on the steps of Memorial Church, setting off sustained applause when he added, "I am a Christian who happens as well to be gay. ... Those realities, which are unreconcilable to some, are reconciled in me by a loving God."
I could not say it better myself. And the fact that he did say it with the possibility that it could have injured his career shows that he had the strength and courage which comes through God to do what is right. We need more of that in the world!
I pray for the repose of all three of these souls, and give thanks for their presence in the life of the world, and of me. personally. May light perpetual shine upon them as they enter into eternal rest.