I just want to take a moment to remember a very good friend, who was cut down in life at a young age.
I first met Wally, when I was pastoring a small rural church.
I was visiting the local nursing home, and came across a young man in a wheel chair, who was pretty much incapable of doing anything for himself.
In his thirties, as a young businessman, he developed a brain tumor.
By the time the surgery was completed, he was pretty much paralyzed. He was also insulin dependent diabetic.
He had lived at home until he fell and broke a hip. His wife then had to have him placed in the nursing home, because she just was not capable of taking care of him, working, and raising two young boys.
It wasn't long before I came to love this guy. He was pretty neat, but he would not do anything to better himself.
One day, I got a call from a nurse that he had been air flighted to Sioux Falls for a heart attack.
I went and visited him in CCU, but he was out of it, so, I prayed over him and went out to spend some time with his wife.
Turns out he did not have a heart attack. Seems that severe dental problems can mimick heart trouble, and they found some abcessed teeth.
As you might have guessed they cut out all of his teeth.
Because he spent a couple of weeks in the hospital, and because he was intubated the entire time, his throat became inflamed, and when the intubation (?) was removed, he was unable to speak due to the irritation.
Each year, prior to Christmas I would pick him up and drive to the mall in Sioux Falls so he could do his Christmas shopping for his wife.
After we had gone through a number of stores in the mall, and he found something precious for his wife, he would tell me he had had enough.
What he looked forward to more than the shopping was going to Cracker Barrell.
Wally was raised in the South, and looked forward to our annual visit to Cracker Barrell so he could eat a meal with grits and could have chocolate cobbler afterward.
He was a die hard fan of the Tennessee Vols.
We kept up the shopping trip for a couple of years after I left the ministry.
Then, after being moved to a couple of different nursing homes, I lost contact with him.
One day, a couple of years ago, I was looking through the obituaries of one of the local papers and saw his name listed there.
Way too young to be taken away; but none to soon to be done with the pain and inconvenience of his disability.
Wally, I am looking forward to seeing you again one day. I do miss you.