It has happened all too often lately. I open my email or look on Facebook and learn about someone I know who has passed on. Recently, a high school friend, John Artz, passed away. I recall when we played together on the Antioch Junior High School football team together. On one play, John and I wound up side by side in the corner of the end zone when another friend, Alan Brown (the quarterback) threw a pass to that corner. John and I went up for it at the same time, but John jumped just a fraction of a second sooner and he came down with the pass. I can still see it as clear as a bell in my mind’s eye. I didn’t really mind – we needed the score – and John and I remained friends thereafter.
Today came word that Michael Duncan Clark, 54 years of age, died. You may remember him best as the convicted killer John Coffey in the movie The Green Mile with Tom Hanks. Clark played an enormous man – who had a very gentle spirit and the ability to heal. He apparently suffered a heart attack back in July and never was really able to recover.
I also recently received news about a former employee of mine, Sandra, who had a massive coronary at 52 years of age and is now gone.
Today’s picture reminds me of the fragility and passing of life. There are those of us who are going over the hill and down into the valley (as King David put it in Psalm 23, “the valley of death”), and there are some left here, staring wistfully after them as they depart.
I wasn’t thinking about that when I shot today’s picture, but it struck me this afternoon as I was looking at the picture after receiving word about Michael Duncan Clark’s passing. There are days that I feel like the elk in the foreground, watching people who I know and love going down into the valley. And I miss them. It is an inevitable migration that we must all make sooner or later.
Someday, someone will stare after me. I hope that when they do, they will have fond memories and will recall me kindly. I wish the same for you, too.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Pope John Paul I was installed as the 264th pope of the Catholic church.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the “last meal” of a condemned person on death row is part of American death-penalty ritual. Here are some of the final meal requests: 1) John Wayne Gacy had fried chicken and strawberries; 2) Ted Bundy had steak and eggs; 3) James Smith (Texas, 1990) requested a “lump of dirt” (his request was denied; and 4) Missouri inmate Lloyd Schulp asked for venison and hare (his request was granted.)