Twice now this week I've received news of the death of someone who was special in my life. I really hope bad news doesn't come in threes.
My earliest recollections of Mr. Z are of him sitting in his living room showing off his dancing poodle Holly. He would sing this little ditty and get the dog to get up on her hind legs and "dance". It brought him great joy. And he did this every time I came over to their house. So, as best I could as a fifteen year old, I would watch in "amazement" and humor him.
Back in those days he was always a pretty serious guy. So my mission was always to say or do something to make him think I was totally insane.
I remember that same year when he and Mrs. Z, then in their forties put their faith in Christ as Savior. An emotional guy, I've often seen tears in his eyes. He was a proud man in a good sense: proud of his family; proud of his church and pastor; proud of his immaculate back yard with fruit trees and chilis; proud of his Mexican heritage; proud of his ability in his 70's to climb a wall when pursued by vicious dogs!
He worked hard his whole life in construction. In his "retirement" he worked just as hard doing concrete and block work in and around his Orange, CA home. His handywork was everywhere. But even more importantly he used his knowledge and experience in building churches in Mexico with missions teams from his church. That brought him the greatest satisfaction.
In my adult years he and Mary often opened up their home to Gail and I when we would go out to California for a visit. It was understood that "Mi casa es su casa" at the Z's home. And the few times I came out and didn't bring her I was chastized by him. "Next time you come you bring your wife!"
When his beloved Mary died a year and a half ago after being married forever it took the wind out of his sails. Yesterday evening she no doubt was escorted to Heaven's gates to welcome him home. I'm sure today she is taking him on a tour of his forever home.
My hope is that he was told on arrival to take off his shoes and go barefooted on the golden streets because it is holy ground. (Those who know him best will understand and smile in agreement with me.) I would love to see the expression on his face.
Hasta luego, amigo viejo.