Tonight the man who was my trainer for becoming a missionary, passed away. Now, when I say he was my trainer, you might think I mean he was a missionary before me, maybe one of the leaders of the mission. But no, that is not what I mean.
"Doc" as we all knew him, trained me by being one of the first people I had to deal with when I first came to the mission. I had no idea. Looking back, I really didn't. So about a month or so after my own alcoholic father passed away suddenly from a stroke, God sends me Doc. Doc was an alcoholic who looked much older than his years. A lifetime of alcohol and being out on the road will do that to you. But it was like God led him right to my family. I had lost my dad, the kids their grandfather, and then we meet Doc.
Doc loved my family. My son John Paul who is now eleven was just a little over a year when we first started helping out. Doc helped John learn how to walk. Our family would go to pick up garbage around the mission and when John Paul got tired of being in the stroller, Doc would walk him around the mission. He had endless patience with John's slow steps. He would just walk around in circles with him. One time one of my children fell in the snow and Doc hurried scooped up the child and dusted him off, so loving and so gentle. That was so many years ago now, but I still remember it, because I was thinking about how someone who could seem so crass to the rest of the world could be so gentle with a child.
Doc had his share of problems. Oh, like he thought he was God. Literally. If someone said, "Thank you God," in his presence, he would say," You're welcome". He also thought he knew better than the Catholic church. He was always trying to get my husband to join the seminary he was going to start because he knew better than some of these priests and he was gonna do it himself.
Doc could also be very annoying. Especially during Mass. He would shout out, "Alleluia" all during Mass. And when I say, all, I mean, ALL! Some people got used to it, I never did. Sometimes I have to admit, it aggravated the heck out of me. But that was my training ground because there are a lot of things at the mission that I have to overlook, no matter how aggravating they can be. People can be annoying. I know I can! I once told my brother missionary Eddy, "If I didn't have to deal with people all the time, I would be perfect!!! It's when I have to deal with others that I mess up. And it's all their fault!" Eddy and I had a good laugh over that one. Wouldn't we all be perfect if we didn't have to deal with others?
Doc had a tough life. I saw him fall for a woman once. A woman much younger than him who was an even worse alcoholic. He loved Sally so much. She died a few years back from alcoholism. He was at her funeral and he talked to me about how sad her life was. She came in and out of his life, but he took her back every time. He felt sorry for her. I think she was the love of his life. I saw the compassion in him at that time.
But alcohol consumed his life. He couldn't stay away. And he could B.S. with the best of them. He was like a cat, nine lives, not only health wise, but jail wise too. He was always one drink away from being put in jail, but the guy always managed to get out of things. Amazing. He has been physically ill for so long. I remember one Easter vigil a few years back when I honestly thought the guy was going to go into cardiac arrest in the aisle. I pictured my children bawling their eyes out while daddy did CPR on Doc. Blessedly that was a worry that only happened in my head and not in real life!
Over the last couple of years, Doc hasn't been around as much. I think it was getting too hard for him to walk down the street and come to the mission. So my encounters with him were actually quite pleasant at the end. Still, I will miss him. I have already cried a few tears over his passing and I know, being the emotional mama that I am, there will be plenty more.
I mean how could I not? When I look back on things, he is one of the reasons why I became a missionary. The people you help get under your skin, sometimes irritatingly so, but you discover how to love. Really love. Without thinking about what you are going to get out of it. And people like Doc have taught me how to love better and better.
Rest in Peace Doc. May God grant eternal rest unto your precious soul.