Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Guy who got it

Ed (19??-2011)

  Last Wednesday, I received the unwelcome news that my friend Ed from the Salvation Army had passed away this week at his home. In February, I wrote about how I attended Ed’s sermon at the Salvation Army and how inspired I was from it. When I saw Ed in March, he told me he was working on a sermon in May and would let me know when he was ready. We talked about his February sermon and I’m happy now that I got to tell him how inspired I was.

  On Thursday at chess club, Majors John and Judith were preparing for Ed’s funeral which was going to be on Friday morning. I wanted to go, but at work I had a time critical project that was coinciding with a maintenance shutdown of some government servers and had to be in Des Moines (A telling sign that my priorities are out of whack). Major John was Ed’s best friend and Ed had followed him around to his different posts in the Salvation Army. He told me that Ed had died sometimes between Tuesday (when he was last heard from) and Wednesday (when he was found) while working on his computer.

  The next to last time I saw Ed was on the courthouse square in late April. My wife and I were out doing our Saturday rounds of the thrift stores and on our way back saw that Ed was out on the square with his hot dog stand during the annual Garden show. I stopped over and had a fantastic Chicago-style Polish Sausage with hot sauerkraut, relish, and mustard while we chatted a bit. Ed was having a great time selling the hot dogs and talking with the food vendor next to him.

  The last time I saw Ed was in May on a Thursday night. We were having our chess club and Ed was cooking a dinner for a service organization that was having a meeting at the Salvation Army. I remember asking Ed when he was going to have the sermon he was telling me he was working on and he said he didn’t know. He then told me that he was the luckiest guy around because he was able to get his hot dog stand even though he never had a way to afford one because everything just came together to get him one.

  Ed had a little table in the Salvation Army kitchen that was piled high with his books and notes for future sermons. He was very religious and believed we are living in the end times, but unlike some of the very religious people I know, he never acted like he was going to heaven and you were going to hell unless you agreed with him. I always judge people by how they are with me and Ed was always supportive of my efforts to reach people through chess.

  I never even knew Ed’s last name, but that’s probably the way he wanted it. He was more about results and actions than names and titles. I saw all the old photos of Ed that were being set out for the funeral. Since I only knew him for the last few years, there was obviously a lot I’ll never know about him. I remember his joy at making a batch of chicken wings or chili for us to feast on during chess club and I also remember him working to the point of exhaustion picking up supplies in Des Moines and driving them to Applington-Parkersburg when the town was nearly destroyed by a tornado.

  My friend Alex Golubow wrote me once that “really make a positive difference in other people's life and that is when life is worth living...”. That describes Ed to a T. Rest in Peace, Ed. I’ll be doubling my efforts to see you someday and get another one of the best Chicago style dogs around.