Charles Reed has been in failing health for some time, so it was not surprising to get the call from his nephew, Joseph, that he died last Friday. Not surprising, but still shocking.
When someone you’ve known, admired and appreciated for as long as I’ve known, admired and appreciated Charles, nearly 24 years, dies, the finality of it strikes at the core.
Several years ago the canvass committee enlisted Steve Wiggins to speak with Charles about his annual pledge. He’s always been very generous, as Steve has, so it was a good match. So Steve was one of the first people I notified about Charles’ passing. Steve responded:
“His later life was a constant admission of the ravages of time, yet his mind continued to have bursts of insight and wisdom. He had an engineer’s precision and a philosopher’s openness to the imponderables. I am fortunate to have known him. And, I suspect he was as ready to explore the unknown chapters as one is likely to ever be. So rather than regretting his passing, I will do my best to celebrate the full life of this unique man, who steered a path for his life that seemed without regard for convention.”
The family has decided on Sunday, December 2 at 2 p.m. to celebrate Charles’ life.
Tom Porro’s death, just nine days before Charles died, was sudden and more unexpected. Tom had been feeling poorly for awhile, but thought it was some sort of digestive problem. He talked with Bobby on Monday morning and Bobby realized that it was time for some sort of intervention. He spoke with Ed and Ed drove Tom to Norwalk hospital, where they determined that he needed stints put in his heart valves. They couldn’t do it at Norwalk, so he was transferred to St. Vincent’s in Bridgeport.
During his EMT ride to Bridgeport Tom suffered a major heart attack from which he didn’t recover. His three children stood beside his bed as he breathed his last. Tom’s memorial service will be on January 12, at noon.
Tom has been an active, involved, committed, passionate member of this church for many years—he loved and appreciated his church. He served several terms on the Board, chairing it twice. He’s been chair of Buildings and Grounds for several years. He served on the Search Committee that selected me as their candidate 24 years ago. Since Lois’s death 16 months ago, Tom has spent a lot of time at church, having lunch with Bobby and others, and just a week before he died he hosted a special lunch with the entire staff. He is missed, a lot.
As we enter this holiday season we’re reminded to celebrate the days while we have them; to find ways to let loved ones know how much we care; to welcome new friends into the circle of our lives; to find ways to say, “I’m sorry,” and offer others the chance to say it to us, so that we don’t carry grievances to the grave.
Mary Oliver’s poem, Praying, puts it nicely, so I’ll use it to close: “It doesn’t have to be the blue iris, it could be weeds in a vacant lot, or a few small stones; just pay attention, then patch a few words together and don’t try to make them elaborate, this isn’t a contest but the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak.”