Stories

The "Characters" in Our Lives

Connie Neckers | October 30, 2019

A few weeks ago I did a memorial service for a neighbor who only lived 7 or 8 houses up the street. It was a small service, there were no more than 10 people in attendance, but it was one of my favorites!

The handful of friends that were assembled shared lots of wonderful stories about the behaviors that got this gentleman thrown out of restaurants and banned for life from Walmart. While he was cantankerous and stubborn, he was also loved and cherished, and considered a mentor and a hero. There was an abundance of joy, laughter, and some very sweet tears.

We had been neighbors for over 30 years but we only became friends a few years ago. He was labeled as an "odd duck" by our streetmates and in our early days of living in the neighborhood he would stand at the end of his driveway and glare as people drove by and make a hand signal to "slow down." I'd be lying if I told you that my husband and I weren't tempted to respond with our own hand signal from time to time. He just had a way of getting under your skin.

As the years went by, we became more familiar with one another and realized that we both attended the Vineyard. I would stop by to chat with him if he was outside when I was walking the dog, and sometimes we would have remarkable conversations. I'd walk home shaking my head, almost flabbergasted that his faith was so important to him.

He absolutely loved Jesus and he operated with a moral code that made him strive to always do the right thing. How can you be this way and get banned for life from Walmart? At the memorial service someone used the word dichotomy which means: a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different. I think that summed up my neighbor!

Finally, one of his buddies blurted out that he was "a character" and that back in the 60's there used to be a lot more characters around. They didn't fit into the mold, they marched to their own drum, and didn't waste time on people who wouldn't accept them for who they were.

When my neighbor died he had 7 contacts in his phone. He had 7 people in his inner circle and 7 dear friends who shared an intimate and lovely memorial service that went on for over an hour. I could just imagine his Heavenly Father there with us, belly laughing from time to time and saying, "Yep, that's my boy, that's my boy!"


Loving Father,

I thank you for the reminder of just how creative you are and how you make each of us uniquely different. Thank you for giving me a front row seat to see how depth in relationships trumps breadth. Allow us to be more accepting and tolerant of those that aren't fitting into our molds or marching to a prescribed drumbeat. Allow us to love and care for the "characters" that are currently in our lives or will intersect with us in the days to come. Thank you for loving and accepting us just as we are, but also loving us enough that you don't leave us that way forever!

In your name Jesus we pray,

Amen