Thursday, January 16, 2020

A Character Dies

I live 2,000 miles from where born and raised. Occasionally I read the obits from back home. There was one today that effected me deeper than most. It was a former schoolmate.
We were good friends for only a short time.
We were teammates on a pony league baseball team. He played shortstop. He really loved baseball and all sports for that fact but not very good at any of them.
He was spunky, smiled a lot, and the slowest runner I’ve ever come across. He could hit a slow roller deep to short and be thrown out with lob before he got halfway to first. However, his enthusiasm was infectious and whenever you saw him coming you were in for a good time. He was one of the best baseball teammates I ever had and a crafty and gutsy schoolyard quarterback.
After pony league, we drifted apart for a while. School friendships are like that—phases.
He tried out for sports but usually never made it beyond the first cut.
Our junior year in high school his girlfriend became pregnant. In those days a guy did the right thing; married the girl and made a go of it.
I was his best man. It was not so much we were that great of friends but it was most likely I was most aware of the plight before him and sympathetic toward it.
He got a job at a local supermarket. He bagged groceries; worked morning till night. He continued to attend school. He and his wife rented a small apartment. Man, he had a tough row to hoe but he made it. Eventually became a meat cutter—a good one. He made it—all the way to 72 and died.
The first marriage, as expected, ended in a divorce. He married again—42 years.
There are so many images of this wire-haired energetic bundle of laughs and smiles that it’s difficult for my mind to rest on just one. They seem to all run together in a bowl of nostalgic stew.
After high school, we made some effort to pal around but it never seemed to catch on. We moved in different directions on many levels. 
He impressed me so much I used him as a character in one of my novels.
A few days ago I spoke to my son about a character that needed to be developed for a novel I’m writing. The problem; for the story work the way envisioned the character must die.
Two things have given me pause for sober reflection: First, when my old school chum/teammate died it was as if the character died who you intended to have immortality on the page. Secondly how Jehovah, our creator, must feel about death, all deaths; creatures created to live forever, die.
(Revelation 21:4, 5) And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” 5 And the One seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new.” Also he says: “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

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