My friend, George, was raised in a parsonage. His father was a pastor. My father was a pastor, a parsonage was my home. At various times in George's life, he was an elementary school principal and a junior high school math teacher. I was a junior high math teacher; I was an elementary school principal. One might accurately say that George and I had things in common. One thing we did not have in common: George was a pastor in his own right in his younger days.
But our relationship was not forged in the crucible of hardscrabble living on the income of the parents; nor was it an outgrowth of professional interactions in the world of public education. Though we lived in the same town, and I knew who he was, our friendship did not really begin until the death of my first wife. I could see as we got acquainted the kind and understanding sort of man he was. Soon I had chosen to begin attendance at the church of which George was a faithful member and leader, and thus I would see George on Sundays.
Time passed by all too swiftly, as I am sure many of a certain age have noted. We both retired, and for a while life went on, so to speak. But soon enough, too soon, George's loving spouse, Harriet, began to have serious health issues. George expended all his strength and most of his energy caring for her for a long time. She eventually improved in overall health, and with a hip replacement, from which she quickly recovered, she was able to resume her life.
George was born ten years before I was, so it is hardly surprising that he began to exhibit serious physical weaknesses of his own. Heart issues, fainting and falling, and a whole litany of things I'll not relate here. I started stopping by the house, where the three of us would visit for half-hour or so. We had wonderful conversation, because we saw things in the same light on so many issues, but we were not focused on the past George's quiet demeanor, his twinkling eye and winning smile were always heart-warming. A while back, the Manloves lost a daughter-in-law, then, less than a year ago, a son died. We discussed at length a fear that all parents have, the very thing they were living, that is that parents should not outlive their children. It just doesn't seem to be natural. George and Harriet, through the hurt of the loss, were able to say, It is in the Lord's hands.
As it got increasingly more difficult for George to complete an expression of his thought, Harriet would sit patiently and coach him a bit, whereupon he could complete what he wanted to say. As I was leaving the other day, Harriet said, "It is getting harder for him to remember things."
My phone rang. It was George's daughter, Patty, who called to tell me that her father had passed away. She said he had a massive heart attack and he was gone quickly.
Though I will miss him greatly, I know that George is with the Lord.
George A. Manlove 1923 - 2012 RIP