I’m sure everybody has some ideal scenario in which they think they will exit this life. It never happens like we envision it, but it happens nonetheless.
A friend of mine said once, “I want to die empty, because I gave everything away.”
I loved that. But I wondered many times what that would actually look like. This week it became real to me when my very dear friend George died.
George died empty. George died with nothing. George leaves nothing behind, that we can touch anyway.
But what he did leave behind is a beautiful example of that statement.
I met George about 4-5 years ago when I took a position at the Union Rescue Mission. George basically served as the gatekeeper for the men’s homeless shelter. He was a staple. He had been there for MANY years. He began serving soon after he had come into the shelter himself, when it was on the north side of the river.
I grew fond of George very quickly as we would talk and he would share stories of his life and the previous years of the Mission. I really looked at him almost like he was grandpa. I guess in a way I kind of wished he was.
We had fun times and hard times. Head-butting and hugging. He was a stubborned old man so set in his ways that you just had to work around it sometimes. But he as faithful, and completely selfless.
He served the men in that shelter for well over a decade, I know. He did it for free. Seven days a week. 365 days a year. Whatever was needed, he was willing to take it on…or at least give it a serious shot!
All of this, without EVER expecting or even asking for anything in return. Nothing. He didn’t want anything. He just wanted to serve, and be a part of helping the dudes that came in that door.
We all knew that Wednesday would happen someday. We all knew that George would be there, working and serving, until his heart quit beating. That’s exactly what happened.
George died, and nobody even realized it. You won’t see him on the TV. Or in the paper. You won’t hear about it on the radio. For you, it will be like nothing even happened. Another nobody, who had nothing, goes on.
That’s just how George wanted to go. Quietly. Unnoticed. He just wanted to serve and take care of his friends until it was his time.
I can’t think of a more beautiful ending to a life. Going out with nothing, because you gave everything.
I’ve never known a more humble (and sometimes stubborned) old man than George, and I’m going to miss him every day. I pray that I will one day be mature enough to let go of everything, and give all I have until my “Wednesday” comes.
Much love, George. The impact you had on many men is immeasurable.