This is a repost from last summer, but pertinent in my series of "important men in my life".
His name was Jim Crawford and he was the golf coach at the University where I worked. Each morning he would come into the Admissions Office with his beautiful white hair and broad smile and sit down with us for awhile. He'd have a cup of coffee, check his mail and inquire about our well-being. In the hectic rush of morning, he took the time to get to know each of us and became a fixture in our office....and in my life.
I wasn't supposed to be there, in the Admissions Office. The Library, where I usually worked, was undergoing renovation so I was temporarily placed in the position of Credentials Specialist until it was completed. Accepting this new job, which I would only hold for 6 months - a job I'd been told would take that long to learn - was less than thrilling. But as it was expected more than requested, I obliged. It was a new door; one that opened up to find new friendships, lessons and insights.
We discussed many things during the time that I worked there and Jim became like a father figure to me at a time in my life when I really needed a positive male relationship. He was funny and charming, his laughter filling the room; his dearness filling our hearts.
For his birthday I made him a card, drawing the silhouette of a golfer on the front. Inside, I expressed how his kindness and the loveliness of who he was had touched not only me, but all those who knew him. His birth day was really a gift to the world. I remember watching him as he went through his mail that morning; opening my card, and seeing the look on his face. He came around the partition of my cubby and whispered, "You are so dear....." and reached down to hug me tightly. It still brings tears...I still feel it....
One day, towards the end of the year, we were discussing the upcoming millennium and how excited he was to see it. That was his wish, he said....to be here to welcome a new century. And welcome it he did with his exuberance and magnificent presence. He struck a chord in all of us, and how grand was his symphony!
Sometimes it's hard to say the exact moment when someone comes into your heart....but you always feel it when they go. I got the call on a Monday morning in January of 2000 that Jim had passed away. He had gone into the hospital the week before for knee surgery, which he hoped would allow him to play golf again. I talked with him on the phone during his hospitalization and he was looking forward to getting out soon and being among those he loved. But complications arose; first his kidneys, then his heart and he left us suddenly...without warning.
The church was full. A loving eulogy from his son, a congregational song, "On Eagles Wings".....a beautiful rendition of "O Danny Boy" on a lone cello. I walked back to my car, thinking about loving someone and wondering if it was worth all the pain of losing him. Remembering Jim, it only took a few seconds to come up with a resounding "Yes!"
He got his wish. Though only for a few short weeks, he saw a new millennium. Though he is no longer here to see it, each of us who were so very fortunate to have known him carry him with us into this new turn. I like to think that he is watching over my shoulder as I type this. He would have loved the world of "blog" and the fact that I am thinking of him. So... as I push "publish" and send his name out into the world, I remember. And though I changed jobs for just a moment, the moment changed me for a lifetime.