Tuesday, July 30, 2013

In memory of Eric Lentz

Today, we lost a great guy in our small town. He was on his way home on his motorcycle, and there was an accident.

Eric had worked as a highway patrolman for many years. A few years back, he had worked for the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and had done his part to get drugs off the streets.

He was one of those guys you never forgot after you once met him. He was from New York, and had that "Brooklyn" accent.  Sometimes he used colorful language that would make my face turn red, but he always made me laugh. He was a real character. Once you got to know him, you looked forward to hearing what he might say next.

Eric loved women. Simple as that. He appreciated women. He made you feel like you were the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. He just had that way about him. But you always knew that there were two women he truly loved: his lovely wife Angie and his precious daughter Christie. Those were the most important women in his life, and he cherished both of them.

We were both regular blood donors and used to run into each other at the local blood bank, which is no longer here. Eric would come in and as I like to say, "hold court" in there till he had us all in stitches. Everybody loved it when he was there.

He was serious about his work with the bureau of narcotics. He and I worked together on an article on the growing problem of crystal meth in our area. He was very proud to have contributed to that article, hoping to make people aware of this terrible problem. I believe he wanted to do his part to stop the madness he saw, to make the streets safer for his children and for all of our children. He worked undercover for a while, and even changed his appearance somewhat. I teased him that the minute he opened his mouth, anyone would know he wasn't "from around these parts."

He was proud of his beautiful son, Tony. I said he was Eric's "mini-me." I think as we watch Tony grow, that prediction will come true. You could see how much the two of them loved each other.

Eric was a true friend. He never said much to me when I lost Lauren, probably because it was too painful for him. He loved his children and was a wonderful father. I think he imagined what I might be feeling as a parent. He would just give me a hug, or text me and say hi.

I have seen him over the years from time to time in WalMart, at church, at high school foottball games and around town. My husband and I ran into him about two weeks ago in WalMart. He greeted me as he always did, with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. We had a great talk, as we always did.

I am praying for Angie, Christie and Tony today, and will continue to pray for them and for all of their family. I am also praying for the young man who was in the other vehicle, too. This tragedy has touched many people in our small town. The people here will embrace these families and comfort them the way they did for us when we lost our daughter. That's what the people here do.

I'll miss you, Eric. I pray Lauren was there to greet you and thank you for being a good friend to her mom. You were a special person. You showed through your life what a man should be - strong, courageous, loving and caring toward others. You were a role model for how a husband should love his wife and how a father should love his children.

I'll always remember you.

"Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Instant Replay!

Hi- Yesterday the Gospel reading at Mass recounted the story of the Good Samaritan. It reminded me of a story from my childhood. My mother did her share of "preaching" to us, but showed us a lot by her example through her compassion for others, and most particularly for people who were poor or downtrodden. While she was not a "church-going" lady, and was a bit of a Bohemian, she was still as good as gold. Her birthday is coming up in a couple of days, so I thought today would be a good day to share this story again - LaJuan

The Samaritan Towel

Mama loved that towel. It sat in a place of glory along the back dash of her baby blue 61 Ford Fairlane and we were not allowed to touch it. Even on cool summer nights sitting in the back seat when she drove with all four windows down. We better not touch that beach towel.

It was all different shades of blue set in a mosaic pattern. Blue like her eyes and like her car. Her favorite color. For some reason, she thought it dressed up her car.

Mama was a waitress in a small, but popular diner in Spartanburg. In those days, waitresses wore starched white uniforms that made them look like nurses almost. Mama never left the house unless her uniform was bright and clean, her hair was all in place, and her make-up was immaculate. She looked like a million dollars when she left for work every day.

One day as she drove along Hwy 176, she was past Pacolet, and approaching Glendale when she noticed a figure lying on the opposite side of the road. People were passing him by and not stopping. Not being able to stop in time, she turned around and went back to see if he was ok. When she got there she realized why no one was stopping.

There was no blue on the man lying there. Only the brown of his chocolate colored skin and the red from the blood that had soaked through his clothes from the wounds. She knelt down and realized he was still alive. In a flash, she decided what to do. She ran to the car, grabbed the beloved towel and covered him with it. Telling him to hang on, she ran across the road to her cousin's roadside stand and called the police and ambulance. She called her boss and told her she'd be late. Then she went back to wait with the man. Her towel was no longer clean and blue, and her uniform no longer starched white.

Once the ambulance came, she turned back, went home changed clothes and went on back to work. As the months went by, she never worried about her towel anymore. We did wonder what happened to the man.

That could have been the end of this story, but it wasn't. A few months later, there was a knock at the back door. When I went to the door, there was a family standing there. The lady held a beautiful chocolate cake, and the man held a towel with all different shades of blue set in a mosaic pattern. The two kids looked scared to be there. I called for Mama to come.

The man started to thank her, and Mama stopped him short. "Our friends come to the front door," she said. When the man started to protest, she repeated her statement and closed the door. A few minutes later, there was a knock at the front door and there they stood. She invited them in, and made a pot of coffee for the adults to enjoy with their chocolate cake. The kids all had milk and cake.

I never knew the man's name. I never saw him again that I can remember. The only thing I remember is that my mama loved that towel, but not so much that she would not stop to help a stranger, no matter who he was.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Message from a friend...

I had a message from my friend Rick today. We knew each other before he suffered the loss of his Kayla, but became much closer after her tragic accident.

Just like us, Rick and his wife had two beautiful children. We had known each other professionally, but not personally. When I heard about Kayla, I wrote a letter to Rick and ever since then, we have become very good friends. We see each other at events pretty regularly. I have only had the chance to meet his lovely wife once, but Richard and I see Rick pretty often. 

The message he sent me was about a mutual friend of ours who lost his battle to cancer today. It just so happens that this gentleman, who was Rick's friend, married a good friend of mine two years ago. My friend had mentioned to me in passing that her new husband lost his young son in a car accident, but it had happened more than 20 years ago. I never got a chance to talk to my friend's husband, and I always wanted to. 

Rick had visited our friend the day before he died. He did not know whether I knew about his having lost a son so long ago. His words were simple, but profound. "A reunion has occurred." 

A reunion has occurred. Wow. I replied that I was jealous of that reunion and I am. I told him that my longing for heaven is sometimes overwhelming to me. Then I remember my son and daughter-in-law and my husband and chide myself for being selfish. 

I think it is selfishness on my part to some extent, but I think it is also the longing of every Christian to go home to be with the Lord.  

St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:2 “For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly habitation.”

He continues, “So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5: 6-8.

This weekend I will try to console my friend in her loss. Although she was only married for a couple of years to this man, I had never seen her happier. I hope she remembers that even though their time together was brief, she made him happy in his last years here on earth.